There was a time that Charlie Crist was considered a rising star in the Republican party. He had won the governor's office in Florida in 2006, an otherwise lousy year for the GOP. He was fairly popular with the voters and there was growing talk of him as a future national candidate, even possibly a running mate in 2008. In the summer of that year, he even got married, surprising almost all political observers. But then, something happened; Crist took all the wrong lessons from the 2008 election.
Many politicians and pundits interpreted Obama's historic victory as a transformative event in American politics. Some believed that the public's fundamental views on a range of issues had shifted away from traditional conservative or republican positions. This view had begun to take hold after the Democrat election wave in 2006. Business groups pledged to work with unions on health care. Politicians like Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich urged action on climate change. The election of Barack Obama seemed to confirm this shift.
The week after the election in 2008, then Gov. Crist hosted a meeting of Republican Governors. In his speech, he outlined how he thought the GOP should "evolve":
Last week, the American people made a choice and this week, if we choose to call ourselves leaders, if we truly endeavor to serve with a servant's heart for the people who count on us, then we too must work together, listen to one another and learn from the leaders who made the kind of history the American people deserve.
Maybe that pablum sounded better than it reads. Months later, Crist took the "work together" sentiment to heart and embraced Obama's stimulus boondoggle. After a disastrous campaign for US Senate, Crist publicly rejected the GOP and today, completed his political evolution with an editorial endorsing Barack Obama for President.
Although most Floridians were probably more concerned with the path of Tropical Storm Isaac than the political musings of a failed politician, Crist's editorial will help the media perpetuate its narrative that the Romney campaign is flailing ahead of the GOP convention.
Unfortunately for Crist, his endorsement is cheapened by the fact that it seems solely based on Obama campaign talking points. An example:
Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.
There is no "Akin amendment" in the party platform. Nothing new was included. The party's abortion plank is the same it has been for years.
Of course, to Crist, its the GOP's fault that he is endorsing Obama:
The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.
Since 2008, Crist has embraced an explosion in the national debt, made a run for the US Senate as an Independent after vowing on network TV he wouldn't do that and changed his position on a host of issues. And, today, endorses Obama based exclusively on DNC talking points. It is neither "leadership" nor "seriousness" if the voters have to wonder whether you were lying to them then, or lying to them now.
What Crist fails to realize is that the election of Barack Obama didn't signal a fundamental shift in the public's views. With a quickly unfolding economic crisis and growing weariness over the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public simply suspended their views and decided to vote for something different.
Within a few short months, seeing piling debt, bailouts, cap and trade and ObamaCare, the public started waking up from their political bender with a massive hangover. What they got after 2008 was clearly different, but they certainly didn't mean that kind of different. In 2010, they started to reverse course, ending the political careers of people like Crist. In November, they will finish the job.
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