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Daniel Ruth

Of loyalty, losers and Florida's next senator

If the race to become Florida's next U.S. senator was merely a contest to see who could line up the endorsements of the most failed presidential contenders, well then Marco Rubio would be well on his way to savoring the refreshing waters of the Potomac.

Rarely has a candidate attracted a more impressive list of concession speeches to his campaign quiver — Mitt Romney, who inspired the nation for a good 20 minutes or so before he got to Iowa; Mike Huckabee, for whom there will always be Kansas, and, finally, Rudy Giuliani, who ran as a fiscal conservative yet managed to blow tens of millions of dollars and earn zero delegates. And just yesterday Rubio locked up the Dick Cheney air-kiss, which should cinch the "Constitution? We don't need no stinking Constitution!" vote.

Say, there's some keen political savvy for you.

At this rate, the Rubio campaign is probably trying to line up that pivotal nod of support from the Harold Stassen estate.

Yet, even though Rubio has managed to surround himself with more losers than the Washington Generals, somehow the perception exists the former speaker of the Florida House should be given an Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra entering Rome-like free pass to the Republican Senate nomination.

And for that to happen, Gov. Charlie Crist is being encouraged — for the good of the party, harrumph, harrumph — to be a nice chap and just go away.

Romney showed up in the state the other day to schmooze Rubio and throw his fealty to the Eddie Haskell of Tallahassee's Apalachee Parkway, while urging Crist to do the right thing and withdraw from the Senate campaign — for the good the party and so forth and so on, or whatever.

Indeed, other party big shots have counseled Crist to fold his tent, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who tried to call the governor to deliver the message but couldn't get through. Why should Crist bother to take the call? This would be like Tiger Woods eagerly standing by the phone waiting to hear from the National Enquirer.

The predicate at work here is that if Crist is truly a loyal, faithful, devoted Republican, why of course, he should be eager to walk away from his ambitions in favor of a 12-year-old who treated his GOP credit card as if it was his weekly allowance for mowing the grass.

But isn't loyalty a two-way street? Ahem, just how "loyal" has the Republican Party been to Charlie Crist? You know, when you have more people plotting against you than Thanksgiving dinner at the Borgias, loyalty becomes a more disposable commodity than a tea bag.

The rap on Crist is that he hasn't been Republican enough — especially by vetoing two bills, one the insane union-busting teacher tenure debacle, which it seems was cooked up by GOP state chairman and Florida Sen. John Thrasher after he talked to his daughter, and another that would have allowed Republicans to raise gobs of unaccounted for de facto legalized bribes to fund phony political committees.

And oh, yes, there was the whole Barack Obama man-hug thing, when the governor apparently committed an act of political treason by appearing with a president to accept gobs of stimulus money when he could have been having lunch with Jeb Bush, the official state sourpuss. What fun.

For all these trumped-up Tallahassee Tokyo Rose-esque transgressions, Crist is now being encouraged to turn in his Grover Norquist decoder ring and ride off into the sunset in disgrace — for the good of the party, of course, of course.

In fact, Charlie Crist has been a loyal Republican. He simply hasn't opted to sign up with the hand-wringing of spats who dominate the Roundhead wing of the GOP.

Perhaps the most disingenuous knock on Crist came from current House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Tsk-Tsk, who claimed the governor will do "just about anything to preserve his political ambitions." No! Really?

Political life is a life of ambitions. And by all accounts there's no record of Larry Cretul turning down the job as speaker when it was handed to him after his predecessor, Ray Sansom, was forced to resign in the wake of scandal.

Is Cretul suggesting Rubio is not a lad of ambition, that his yearning to become a member of the United States Senate is grounded solely in motherhood and apple pie altruistic motives to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony?

There is a growing sense Charlie Crist will take his leave from the clucking tea party ditherers who have hijacked the GOP and run for the Senate as an independent. If so, good for you, governor.

An independent Crist candidacy would give true Republicans as well as moderates a choice, not a star chamber echo.

And an independent run freed from having to pander to faux ideological purity would allow Crist to at last get in touch with his inner Harry Truman and conduct a give 'em hell Charlie campaign.

Now that really would be fun.

Of loyalty, losers and Florida's next senator 04/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 23, 2010 6:05pm]
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