Florida deserves better than Charlie Crist

cristobamaFlorida is at a critical point in its history. The state has earned a reputation as an attractive place to live, a place where the fruit of your hard work won’t be swiped away by government’s hunger for your money. That repute has been achieved by fiscally responsible officials who have run state government over the past few years.

But that good name may soon be smudged, because Charlie Crist is back. Crist is a master ventriloquist, speaking from both sides of his mouth, depending on what is momentarily convenient. By now, informed voters should know what they’re getting with Crist: a tidal chameleon. He changes his color to suit his purposes, and his camouflage comes and goes like the tides.

The Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County has championed the interests of the regional business community for 22 years. In that time, BIZPAC has never endorsed Crist for any office he has pursued, as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent. The group has always seen him as an opportunist first.

Even when Crist ran for governor as a Republican in 2006, many business leaders were concerned about how he mistreated the business community when he was attorney general. We remembered his vehemence in elevating his prosecutorial zeal to staggering heights by launching or participating in a number of regulatory class action lawsuits against many legitimate businesses, accusing them of “racketeering” and criminal behavior. On two occasions, he teamed up with then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, as squirrelly a character as you would ever want to meet. Anti-business journalists in the mainstream media loved Crist for it, but business leaders knew the master ventriloquist was using his power in pursuit of headlines and trial-attorney contributions.

Crist is the king of the flip-floppers, the very essence of what average voters don’t like about politicians, with his shifty convictions that change as the wind blows. Crist has no core beliefs, except the belief in whatever gets him votes. His great skill over the years was to protect himself at other people’s expense.

Why would Democrats think they can trust a man who prostitutes himself for power? The only conceivable answer is that Democratic power brokers want someone with a chance to win more than they want a truth teller. They are willing to support a governor who has clearly demonstrated he’s a turncoat and a waffler. How do loyal Democrats take Crist’s conversion seriously? I ask my Democratic friends: If Crist was such a good governor, why didn’t they vote for him when he ran for the U.S. Senate as an independent against Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio? Clearly, Democrats rejected Crist then. The only difference is that Crist now calls himself a Democrat.

What have we become as an electorate? Is nothing sacred? Apparently, politicians must no longer be held accountable for deceptive behavior or duplicity. Only fundamentally flawed judgment can allow a voter to think that personal dishonesty won’t transfer into public dishonesty.

Founding Father Noah Webster, the father of American education, once said: “In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide — look at his character. … When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility. … He betrays the interest of his country.”

Florida does not need a governor who criticizes programs that cleanse voter rolls of non-citizens, who supports ending the trade embargo against communist Cuba, who embraces Obama’s so-called “economic stimulus” plan, and who will support taxpayer subsidies for illegal immigrants’ college tuition.

But more than anything, Florida does not need a political chameleon for governor.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
John R. Smith

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