Charlie Crist Taking a Position ... Stop the Presses? I Don't Think So
Around the State
What's that you say, Charlie Crist has a position paper? I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
An old position or a new position?
A position his campaign staff whipped up back in the boiler room? Or the kind he had to pay a political consultant to slick up?
The ubiquitous U.S. Senate candidate without a party or a principle in his pocket is actually pledging his support for an armload of issues important to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
That's right, same group he bashed mercilessly four years ago when he was a Republican sending out mean-spirited mailers and running against Democrat Jim Davis on a traditional family values ticket.
Only this time Charlie wants Jim Davis’ left-of-center friends to give him a little sugar. And their money. And -- please, please, please -- lots of votes.
So, before he changes his mind again … better get Charlie a pen, tie him to a chair and don't take your eyes off him until he seals the deal.
Or, LGBTers, here's a better idea. Slip his position paper into the nearest shredder. Ask yourself, can I believe a champion flip-flopper? Would Charlie Crist ever defend a position he swore he would keep if he realized in doing so, he would lose more votes than he could win?
Charlie has played by populist rules his whole political life. The-in-thing-is-my-thing philosophy. What do you want to hear, I can deliver. Big raise for teachers? The check's in the mail. Worried about crime? New prisons coming soon. Save the Everglades? I'll buy them for you.
More recently, Charlie's populism has taken a show biz turn.
John McCain is looking for a running mate, comes to Florida, and there's Charlie, glued to the GOP presidential nominee like a cheap suit in the rain, a fixture in every camera shot. A few months later Barack Obama wins an historic election, his approval ratings soar, he commands the attention of the world and guess where Charlie is. Well, he's everywhere Obama is. Soon as the president crosses the Mason-Dixon line, there's a grinning Charlie rubbing elbows, rubbing shoulders, rubbing faces. 'Lest we forget the famous hug.
Beware the silver fox, LGBTers. I know you want to believe him. You’re desperately hungry for a hero, but this man is a heartbreaker. Run his promises up against his history:
In his position paper he says, “I believe civil unions that provide the full range of legal protections should be available to gay couples. That includes access to a loved one in the hospital, inheritance rights, the fundamental things people need to take care of their families.”
But, in 2007, as a Republican, he asked the party to stop spending money promoting “a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Florida,” even after he signed a petition to place an amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage on the 2008 election ballot. Same year, when asked if he supported civil rights on the basis of sexual orientation, Charlie said “no.”
And then, in his position paper, he says, “I support the current efforts by Congress and military leadership to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell …” But, as a Republican, Charlie supported Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy – and said so publicly many times over.
Probably the most upsetting of all to the LGBT community will be Charlie's super-duper flip-flops on gay adoption. He now says he supports it, calls it "an appropriate evolution." But as a Republican he said on numerous occasions between 2006 and 2010, "I don't think gay adoption is appropriate. I believe that the traditional family is the best means by which to raise children."
With all that flip-flopping, how do you know where a politician stands? How do you know what you can trust? Charlie Crist didn't begin weighing his "positions" differently -- to capture votes and survive one election after another -- just when he switched parties. He's been doing it for 20 years.
Sadly, Charlie's superficiality doesn't seem to worry Equality Florida's Nadine Smith. "This is the first time in Florida's history that a sitting governor has taken these public positions on a wide range of LGBT equality issues," she said. "It marks a shift in the debate in our state."
I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Nadine. With Charlie Crist, all you have to do is wait another five minutes or so. Sure as the sun comes up in the morning, the debate will shift right back again.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (850) 727-0859.