Monday, July 19, 2010

The Passion of Charlie Crist

Newsweek has a glowing article about Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who is leading the field in the race for a Senate seat even though he bolted the GOP and is running as an independent.  Crist is lifted up as a model for centrism in an age of extremism, especially right-wing extremism.

Now I do think that Crist's lead in the Senate race over GOP challenger Marc Rubio, highlights something I've said for a while: that while the Tea Party might play well in Republicanland, it will not do as well among the general public.  Rubio is too far to the right to be acceptable in such a purple state as Florida, the GOP should have got behind a centrist candidate.

That said, I don't think Charlie Crist is a great model for centrism.  As I've said before, Crist is basically an opportunist who makes decisions based on the political winds of the moment.  I've faulted the GOP for basically putting people in ideological straightjackets and I stand by what I've said in the past. But having no principles is no better than clinging to principles too tightly.

Liberals like E.J. Dionne and the writers at Newsweek are giddy at Crist's centrism, but that's because he is spuring the GOP and he is agreeing with them on various issues like offshore oil drilling. What happens if he wins and then changes his positions (again) when the political winds shift right? Something tells me that all the accolades from the Left would stop.

I just think centrism or moderate politicians have to be about more than just being rank opportunism. If that is what being a moderate is all about, then no thanks.

No comments: