For Crist's Sake
by Jack Landsman, Thu Aug 19, 2010 at 02:22:01 PM EDT
The U.S. Senate race down in Florida has to be the most fascinating contest in this year’s mid-term elections for me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently because of these volatile polls that have come out. Supporters of Marco Rubio, the beleaguered Republican golden boy, were first elated when Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen released polls showing Rubio +5. The pendulum shifted again when Quinnipiac released its most recent survey showing Gov. Charlie Crist ahead by 7 points.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Kendrick Meek demonstrates why it’s hard out there for a small-time politician. Ever since Gov. Crist (the orange, unprincipled one, for the casual voters) pole-vaulted out of the Florida GOP to independence, Meek has been a non-entity. And for his part, President Barack Obama hadn’t been showing the brother any love. And while he’s keeping his options open by continuing to flirt with the orange governor, Obama did put on the charm offensive yesterday and ordered a sandwich for the congressman during a trip there.
Even though the president still hasn't headlined a fundraiser or campaign event exclusively for Meek, the congressman's campaign used every chance it could Wednesday to get him close to the president.
Meek was on the airport tarmac to greet Obama when he arrived, and the two later made a stop at Jerry's Famous Deli in South Beach for corned beef sandwiches.
After purchasing Meek's sandwich, the president joked, "Don't say I never gave you anything."
This race is a welcome, fun departure from an otherwise bitter and depressing political climate. The two Democrats are both essentially good guys. I can see how some view the White House’s past treatment of Kendrick Meek (an early supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton) as the epitome of its decadence. I tend to cut the president some slack on this one. (We all misread the tea leaves sometimes and have to pay the price, Kendrick!) Besides, Meek’s primary opponent, Jeff Greene, who was once gaining, is a charming politician—a kind of vulgar charm, no doubt. (Jeff Greene is like Bill Clinton with a billion dollars and no Hillary to instill a modicum of discipline.)
The lingering drama between Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist is more consequential. As someone who’s had an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards the Tea Party movement compared most on the left, I’ve been mostly favorable to Rubio thus far. Marco Rubio is sort of like Sarah Palin. Unlike unpolished, and often times hideous, conservatives like Sharron Angle of Nevada and Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Rubio demonstrates why the coming Republican takeover of Congress is not the end of civilization.
Crist, however, is a villain and the worst possible outcome. As a senator, Crist would almot certainly be with President Obama. People who find this preferable must remember that President Obama may only be around two more years or so. I, for one, can easily imagine Crist shamelessly operating for a President Mitt Romney in 2013. I can even imagine him faking his way as a Palin Republican if that whole thing succeeds. (He's like a much grayer John McCain without the ocassionally amusing wisecracks).
If the current situation holds, Marco Rubio will win. Some may disagree but the various arguments proffered by Crist enthusiasts make them sound more than a little bit like the folk that were talking up Conrad Burns and Linc Chafee’s chances back in ’06—and who are those guys, right? There were a lot of attractive, but difficult, races for ascendant Democrats that year; and every one of them broke for the us (Diebold and all) because of the national trend.
But for Crist’s sake... this is Florida we’re talking about.