Home > Uncategorized > The Specter of Arlen Haunts Florida

The Specter of Arlen Haunts Florida

Charlie Crist has formally abandoned the Republican Party. In an announcement yesterday, Crist said that he was going to take his ball and go home, ostensibly to find a new game. Crist has decided that since his chances in the Republican primary were slim-to-none, he would bolt and run as an independent. Much like Arlen Specter, Crist has decided that utility is more valuable than principle.

This comes, by the way, less than a month after he swore that he would not do it. Chris Wallace asked him five times whether he would leave the primary and run independently, and five times Crist said it would never happen. Then, mirabile dictu, Marco Rubio starts leading in all the polls, and Crist changes his tune.

Crist is no stranger to prevarication.  His recent veto of the controversial Republican education bill, which would have tied teacher salaries to student test scores, made the front page of the New York Times. The legislation was vehemently opposed by Florida teachers and many parents, and Crist’s action won over new fans as well as some doubters. Overlooked, however, was the fact that Crist had earlier said that he would continue to be an advocate for parent choice in education, including stringent testing and vouchers. Crist encouraged standardized testing “to guarantee that each student receives a year’s worth of learning in a year’s worth of time.” What’s clear is that he was planning the veto in order to woo the NEA after his exodus from the Republicans.

Charlie also had some problems with the truth on the abortion issue. Crist claimed to be “pro-life and pro-family,” however, he had no plans to change abortion law in the state of Florida, stating in the August 21, 2006 issue of The Tampa Tribune that “I’d rather change people’s hearts than change the law.” However, Crist also said months earlier that he would, if elected governor, sign a ban on abortion similar to the one in South Dakota.

Predictably, the Democrats are having a ball over this, and for two different reasons. Obviously, the first is that they hope that Crist will split the right-wing vote, letting Kendrick Meek slip in essentially unopposed. The other, and more important reason, is that it gives the Democrats and their shills in the media a chance to bash the right. The current spin from the left is that there is a new, emerging Republican party composed of far-right lunatics driven by tea-party types.

We got to listen to Howard Dean, for example, tell us that,  “What effect does the tea party have on the Republican Party? And this is a really good example. They’ve driven another moderate out of the Republican Party….there just apparently is no place in the Republican Party for moderate, thoughtful people anymore.” Anytime you hear a democrat call someone moderate and thoughtful, you can be sure that he’s describing a RINO(republican in name only). He went on to say, “I actually think that the two big winners out of this are the United States, who are hopefully going to get a real senator instead of a far-right person.” The implication being that only people who adhere to Dean’s agenda are “real.”

And it’s not just Dean.  Andrea Mitchell said “Charlie Crist expected to make it official later today, running as an independent in the Florida senate race. Is he leaving the party or did they leave him?”

One wonders, pari passu, whether this Rubio bashing will hurt the Democrats in a heavily Hispanic state. Rubio seems to embody that Horatio Alger-type story that Americans love, and being of Cuban heritage in Florida is no disadvantage in carrying certain precincts.

The long knives are out, however. There are  unconfirmed reports that the IRS is investigating Rubio for alleged expense report irregularities and potential underpaid taxes. Leading the charge is, oddly enough, Charlie Crist. Based solely on unsubstantiated reports, Crist started slamming Rubio as unprincipled.

One wonders about collusion between Crist and the Democrats. How much has been promised to Crist if he sabotages Rubio’s candidacy? What concessions has Crist extracted from the Democrats? Or, like Jim Jeffords and Arlen Specter, is this pure calculated self-interest? In any case, one is never worse off by rejecting the duplicitous.

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