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The Many Faces of Charlie Crist: Flip Flopping in Florida

Florida Governor and US Senate Charlie Crist just can’t seem to make up his mind about who he is.  The so-orange-he-could-outshine-John-Boehner politician has long been a man of shifting values depending on who he’s talking to and what political race he is in.  Once a rising star of the right, even rumored to be on the short list for John McCain’s Vice-Presidential pick in 2008, he now is tap dancing his way through the Senate race to recast himself as a moderate and, at times, a progressive.  

Ever since abandoning the GOP after right-wing, tea party favorite Marco Rubio was poised to defeat him in the Republican primary, Crist has been cozying up to Independents and Democrats by trying to deny his record of conservatism and shifting values.  

One thing is clear: Charlie Crist just can’t seem to keep things straight.

Crist has flip-flopped in the past on so many issues, from offshore oil drilling (against it before he was really for it and now against it again), to taxes (more taxes! oops, I mean less taxes! I mean…), and many others in his quest to be popular to whichever constituency he’s courting at the time.  His latest flip flop? His daily shifting stance on social issues like the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Crist was Asked and He Told

When questioned about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Monday of last week, Crist told reporters in Tallahassee:

I think the current policy has worked pretty well for America. I really do. So I don’t know why there’s any need for change at this time.

Just three days later, Crist had apparently changed his mind…On Thursday, the Crist campaign issued a statement doing an about face, saying he’d “be inclined” to support a Senate compromise repealing the discriminatory policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military:

Ultimately, as in all military matters I defer to the Pentagon and to the generals and what the Senate is doing today is giving them the ultimate authority to do what is best for our military.

What brought about the complete change in his stance? Which one is how he really feels and would vote if elected: the off-the-cuff answer against repeal or the campaign vetted statement for it? No one knows.

And therein lies Crist’s greatest weakness: he can’t be trusted by either side because he doesn’t have deeply held beliefs, only ones that change with the winds of polls, public opinion, and campaign finessing.

Crist’s Democratic opponent, Kendrick Meek (who has been a co-sponsor of measures repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and sent out a petition to his supporters urging Congress to take immediate action to repeal the ban), put together a video showing just how stark Crist’s flip flop was:

Crist’s History of Flip Flopping: “Protecting” Marriage

It’s a similar situation that happened around another hot button social “wedge” issue with Crist.  In 2008, when Crist was working hard to court the ultra-conservative right so he could become McCain’s Vice-Presidntial pick, he constantly shifted on another LGBT issue, Florida’s odious Amendment 2, the so-called “Marriage Protection” Amendment that not only put a ban on same-sex marriages in the Florida constitution, but also sought to go further and ban any relationship recognition or protections (civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc).

Before any VP buzz, Crist came out against Amendment 2.  According to the Palm Beach Post:

He [Crist] is no help at all. And even though he signed a petition to support the same-sex-marriage ban while he was running for office, he says he’s not interested in pushing the issue anymore.

It’s not something that moves me,” he said last week.

He signed the petition to get votes in the Gubernatorial election, then said he didn’t support the Amendment to seem more moderate once elected.  That all changed when McCain came knocking.  He changed his tune to Florida’s Star Banner:

On Monday, Crist said he supported Amendment Two which would constitutionally ban gay marriage in the state. Such unions are already illegal in Florida and Crist has previously shied away from the issue, saying he has a “live and let live” attitude.

Of course, this switch gave ammunition to the anti-equality forces., the group behind the amendment, quickly pushed out Crist’s statement the public:

Governor Crist joins dozens of other federal and state elected officials who support the common sense of having the people and not judges define marriage in Florida.

The amendment passed.

Crist is No Moderate

Despite what common media story lines tell you, make no mistake:

Crist is no moderate.

Does he appear more middle of the road than a far-right nutjob like Marco Rubio, who proudly headlines anti-LGBT and anti-women’s rights group’s dinners?  I suppose, but only because he has no real moral compass that can be nailed down and takes every position on an issue.  He simply can’t be trusted on any issue by either side.

He eventually came out against equality by supporting Amendment 2, has supported the ban on gays & lesbians adopting in the state of Florida, and now is all over the map on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  There is nothing moderate about him.  And he certainly shouldn’t be fairing well with progressives, the LGBT community, and their allies.

Charlie Crist’s flip flopping based on his political fortunes makes it clear that he is someone who can’t be trusted in the U.S. Senate or with anything he says.

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