I’m going to take a break now from being sad and talk about Republicans in Florida. They seem to have lost their minds all over the country, but I’m most familiar with our homegrown examples.
Let’s review: Our (formerly) Republican governor, Charlie Crist, is running for the U.S. Senate to replace Republican Senator Mel Martinez, who resigned prior to the end of his term. Crist’s former chief of staff is currently serving as a placeholder, and to begin with, it was assumed that Governor Charlie would be a slam dunk for the post. Enter Marco Rubio, former Speaker of the state House of Representatives. As the cliche goes, Rubio is a “darling” of the Tea Party. To get further to the right of Rubio, you would have to pick the second star to the right and fly straight on ’til morning.
The Republicans were (and still are) confused. They were already a little suspicious of Crist, who was too popular and populist for their tastes. Also they saw a need to align themselves with the Tea Party people (how quickly are they now trying to backpedal?) and they began to swing support toward Rubio. Now they are between the proverbial rock and hard place.
As the filing date approached, one Republican “leader” (sic) said that Crist should just take his lumps and wait his turn. Hello? Who did you think you were dealing with here? Just days before the filing date, Crist quit the Republican Party and filed as an independent. It would be a severe understatement to say that the Party was pissed.
The first thing they did was remove his portrait from Republican Party headquarters. Then, they sold it on Ebay. You think I’m kidding. I wish I were. I’d like to think that even Republicans have progressed beyond third-grade playground. So as if that wasn’t enough of a laugh…
Last week, Governor Charlie called a special session of the Legislature. He has the power both to do that, and to set the agenda. He said: one item only. A constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling in near-shore Florida waters. The Legislative “leadership” (sic, again) said they would be more receptive to it if they could talk about other things. Governor Charlie said no. They said a constitutional amendment wasn’t necessary–it’s already against the law. Governor Charlie pointed out that for the last two years, the selfsame “leadership” has been trying to overturn that law. They said it was political grandstanding. He said…”Whatever”. They warned him they would not take action if he called the special session. He did it anyway.
So last Tuesday, they met for exactly 2 hours and 18 minutes, and adjourned. They say they are going to call their own special session in September, to talk about “real solutions”. They may even have some good points, but here is the problem: 71% of the public was on Charlie’s side. By engaging in their playground snit, they simultaneously managed to make themselves look uncaring and make Charlie look good. What would it have cost them to go ahead and pass the ban, and then go with their own additional solutions in September? Nothing…except they couldn’t get as much imagined revenge that way. Tone-deaf is too good for these guys. You would think they would have a strategist smart enough to say, if you balk here, you will hand the election to Governor Charlie.
I think you can just start calling him Senator Charlie. It was a masterful move.