The positions Charlie Crist has held over the years are no stranger, taken all around, than those found in the Kama Sutra. But there certainly are more of them. And Crist has had to bend even more to assume them.
The former Florida governor does not simply adjust, shave, evolve, massage, bend, or tweak his political stances, as almost all politicians do from time to time to meet changing political needs, or in rare instances to reflect genuine changes of heart or understanding. Charlie goes in for complete reversals of basic approaches, which if genuine (they aren’t) would require a totally new understanding of how the world works. For a quicker and more complete change of belief, Crist would have to embark on a walking trip to Damascus.
Crist’s changes are so pole to pole his nickname should be “One-Eighty.” He has demonstrated such dexterity and quickness at getting from the far right to the far left, that such complete and instant reversals of political positions, should anyone ever again attempt them, will henceforth be referred to as “the Charlie Crist dismount.” Crist’s political calibrations have much in common with an Ozzie Smith back-flip, though they are less entertaining.
Charlie is definitely a party animal, having run for office as a member of both major parties now. To the surprise of many, he won the Florida governorship in 2006 as a self-described Reagan Republican. He lost a Senate race to Marco Rubio in 2010 running as a middle-of-the-road independent. He’s seeking the Florida governorship again this year as a full-goose, bozo Obama Democrat. The former self-described Reagan Republican is now fond of saying that remaining a Republican would have required him to violate his “core beliefs.” Long-time Charlie-watchers know his only core belief is that he should hold public office. He has no more core than a tennis ball.
The upcoming race between the substantive but inarticulate Incumbent Republican Rick Scott and the cuddly but substance-free and shameless Crist will be expensive and annoying, but unedifying. A far more interesting race would be between the pro-gun, pro-life, anti-tax, tough-on-crime, limited government, “You can’t get more conservative than me” Crist of spring 2010 and the pro-abortion, Obamacare true-believer and thorough-going leftist Crist who endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2012. (That’s right — Reagan to Obama in just two years.) It would be hard to find two politicians with more disparate approaches to everything than these two incarnations of Charlie Crist, a man whom the adjective mercurial falls well short of describing.
As you might imagine, a protean candidate who changes positions on fundamental issues faster than a political consultant can say “focus group,” presents unique problems for the campaign workers promoting him. To this point lots of folks have signed on to Crist’s campaign, sized up the room on arrival, and promptly departed.
Crist campaign HQ, therefore, houses some exotic equipment not required by normal candidates. A major expense is the Cray supercomputer to keep up with Crist’s position changes and to track what he claims to believe at any given hour. Less costly are the cue cards Crist’s press secretary (listed on the Crist Campaign depth chart as Vice President for Clarifications) must use when Crist is on the air to help him remember what he says he believes today. Then there’s the wall of loose-leaf focus group reports, the cases of Ginkoba to help Charlie remember what he said yesterday, the SWAT team of pollsters on speed-dial, a wind-sock, and a mood-ring.
The next months won’t be easy on Florida’s voters either. Floridians should be warned there is an ever-present danger of whiplash among those foolish enough to try to keep up with where Charlie stands from day to day. Sales of motion sickness remedies will spike among those trying to take Crist seriously (I advise against it).
I’ve known Charlie since the nineties, when he was a Florida State Senator so tough on the issue of crime that he was pleased to be known as “Chain Gang Charlie.” He has always been a puzzle to me. (The only larger puzzle than Charlie himself is why so many Floridians say they find him appealing — most polls show Crist even with or leading Scott in the governor’s race.) After watching this walking bafflement for two bizarre decades, I’ve finally reached the only explanation that fully accounts for the contradiction that is Charlie. And that is that Crist is not a human being — he’s a hologram.
I say that from this point on, the burden of proof is on those who insist that Charlie is a human. He does almost nothing that humans do the way humans do it.
Now I know the odd behavior is circumstantial. But I have physical evidence as well. I remember covering a political event a few years back at the Pepin Rood Center in Tampa, a large, sterile hall where many political events are held (and, for all I know, hoe-downs, wakes, and bar-mitzvahs). One end of the hall is a long bar with mirrors behind the tiers of bottles that go from about chest high almost to the ceiling. I couldn’t help but notice at this event that, of all the politicians bellied up to the bar, Charlie was the only one on without a drink in his hand, and, more importantly, the only one whose reflection did not appear in the mirror. Draw your own conclusions.
Other commentators have come close to the clarifying conclusion I’ve arrived at. In a recent column, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg called Charlie “a mannequin with a pulse.” He may indeed also be a mannequin, but I’ll have to ask Jonah about his evidence for the pulse.
The increasingly appealing conclusion that Charlie Crist is a hologram leaves us with a major question. Who is projecting this oddment on the world and why? Who is the man behind Charlie’s curtain? (I make the sexist assumption that Charlie’s mad creator is a man, not wanting to be accused of taking part in any war on women.) Normally I have no truck with the therapeutic culture. But I say we need to apprehend this guy. He is one sick puppy and needs our help.