Governor Charlie Crist: Putting Politics Above Principle

Power, the only principle Charlie Crist honors.

History reveals a significant tendency characteristic of power-seekers: such men are often solely driven by their appetite for influence. Would it be incendiary to suggest that perhaps Florida Governor Charlie Crist is this type - that his objective is status rather than service?  And, is there an indicator anywhere available that could assist us in discerning these two aims: the selfish from the noble?

The truest method of identifying the catalyst of an individual's aspirations can be found in the conviction of his principles: both in his actions and in his words.

Little else could help to illustrate that the Governor's actions may be less service-oriented than he would admit, than the knowledge that he has made a career of jumping from governmental chair to governmental chair. Including his current campaign for the U.S. Senate, Crist - newly unfettered from the challenge of contending with conservative Marco Rubio in the Republican primary - has run for government office five times in his career.

Crist fully understands the degree that his words hold sway over what others believe, and as a result, his statements are often orchestrated to appeal to parties on both sides of an issue.

During a very revealing interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Crist - in condemning Rubio's abject opposition to President Barack Obama's economic agenda - proudly and without eloquence expressed his lack of confidence in the notion of principles by offering:

You can't just [say] you're going to do great things and stand on principle or politics above the people of your state that you're supposed to serve.

A more comprehensive view of Crist's seemingly ill-esteemed opinion of principles can be drawn from the remarks of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush when he argued against the outcome of Crist's decision to accept federal stimulus funds:

When Republicans were fighting in a principled way... Governor Crist, incorrectly in my opinion, supported the stimulus package. That was a mistake. And I consider it unforgivable in the sense we're now in a battle for our country's future.

The disdain with which Charlie Crist seemingly regards principles should now be quite apparent. And, because he has before decried their perils, it would seem obvious to resolve that he is perhaps absent of foundational beliefs whatsoever.

As evidenced by his campaign rhetoric aiming to put people above politics (a strategy which attempts to characterize Rubio's campaign as political rather than principled), the governor has feverishly attempted to convince the voting public of his non-subscription to the concept of the supremacy of set precepts.

Yet to say that Crist is entirely without principles is insufficient.  Despite his efforts, Candidate Crist has - in implicit and crafty ways - given the public all the evidence they would ever need to deduce the truth of the matter:

Charlie Crist does not simply reject principles in general.

He rejects conservative principles. And he works without rest to disguise this fact.

The Conscience of a Non-Conservative

It has been well demonstrated that Crist is no conservative.

But is he a moderate?  Or do Crist's convictions align with an ideology the polar opposite of conservatism? Look no further than his words:

I look through almost every issue through the prism of less taxing, less spending, less government and more freedom. I also understand that we're in a tough economy right now, and when you're in a tough economy, sometimes you have to do the kinds of things that make sense in order to be able to keep people employed.

It cleverly sounds conservative in nature; however upon close inspection, Crist's meaning is painfully understood: when times are tough it is sensible to raise taxes, increase spending, expand government, and limit freedom.

And when he declared that he wanted to scrap and replace the health care reform bill, he said it with enough conviction to fool even the skeptical. His true meaning wasn't fully exposed until he added that, "preexisting instances should not be a discriminatory tool that's used by insurance companies to not give people insurance."

What would that mean?

It would mean that any health care measure that he would support over the current reform bill would be, in principle, no different from the original. Because such a policy would do nothing that the current bill does not, the end result would be the same: the elimination from the marketplace of private insurers and the subsequent emergence of the public option.

To comprehend the method with which Crist would likely legislate, it is only necessary to look at the way in which he governs and to briefly reason through his circuitous exhortations.

That the seasoned campaigner prefers to be viewed as a pragmatist, unbound to any strict apprehension of broad issues, would suggest that he would act as a politico - that he would vote along the liberal line in Washington, in contradiction to the manner in which he courts his state constituency.

Does Crist view the adoption of principles as a hindrance toward his present goal of appealing to as broad a base as possible?

Or is it the espousal of principled conservatism that would act as an obstacle in the course of some separate, ultimate aim?

It is possible that such political ambition could be the result of an earnest desire to continually better serve his fellow man.  Based on his actions as Governor and his statements on the campaign trail, it is more likely that his political motivation is grounded in a want for greater and greater personal power and authority - the natural mindset not merely of the generally ambitious, but of the big-government statist Crist's statements reveal him, in character, to be.

Is it possible that Charlie Crist, in his heart, may pine for the chance of one day further advancing his political pursuits beyond the State of Florida?

Or that he may hope to reach the highest status possible, so that there would never be a requirement of him to ever again campaign for office and be forced to appear as what he is not?  Is it possible that a man so equivocal and disingenuous, once he has reached status enough to satisfy his hunger for influence, would grow weary of such tactics?

A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.

- Sam Adams

This article was reprinted from a different site. Commentary may be added.  Read other articles by Guest Editorial or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments
"Is it possible that Charlie Crist, in his heart, may pine for the chance of one day further advancing his political pursuits beyond the State of Florida"

Not just possible, highly probable!

Someone once said - there is no state politician that has not already, once elected, pictured himself in a higher position.

They are ALL like that, including Rubio. The key is to find someone that has the right principles to carry along.
May 4, 2010 9:03 AM
The the Republican Party.. the party of "more government is less" has been for quite some time the party of moral bankruptcy.. their hero Ronald Reagan, e.g., is an eloquent icon of the politics of statism, and his intellectual heir, Mr G W Bush aka "W" is the embodiment of those dear principles that government is sacred, even to the point of denying liberty, property, freedoms of expression and an unconstrained budget.
Mr Chxrist is pwerhaps vocalizing what many of us already understand, and hopefully that this "Tea Party" may yet achieve, if the Republicans actually deny their ignorance, arrogance, and oh~! so striking similarities to their socialist brethren, the Democrats.
good luck to him.. he certainly cannot be any worse than JEB Bush or any Republican who seduces us with honey while poisoning the wine..
it is the GOP wich has the pricnples of "Change, being both socialist a la Mr Bush and then when they are not in power5, suddenly doing an about face...
Something a real man would never do.. nor a PARTY OF PRINCIPLE~!
May 4, 2010 7:47 PM
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