So the St. Pete Times finally admits it: We don't know a damn thing about Charlie Crist. The newspaper's political editor, Adam C. Smith, writes in today's newspaper that Crist is a "mystery":
"Who is Governor-elect Crist? He's a national figure without any real identity, a winner with no clear agenda or ideology."
So now they tell us. What the hell is going on over there at the Times? They went right along with Crist's playbook, never calling out, as I can recall, the disingenuous -- and constant, mind-numbing -- attacks on Jim Davis's attendance record in Congress since he began running for governor. It was cheap, cheap, cheap. But Times reporter Steve Bousquet always seemed to be in Crist's corner. After the first debate, he wrote:
The missed votes have been a staple of Crist's TV ads, which show an empty chair careening across Capitol Hill and describe Davis as a "do nothing" congressman.
"It's wrong," Crist said of the missed votes, looking directly at Davis. "You violate a public trust when you do it. And you shouldn't do that."
Crist deflected Davis' criticism of him as all talk and no action on key issues by bringing up the missed votes. "I'll come to work every day," Crist said.
Yes, and I suppose Crist was working real hard as Florida's Attorney General during his own campaign? Give us an F-ing break. Four days before that October 25 article, Bousquet attacked Democrats for accusing Crist of flip-flopping on the felon vote issue.
Along comes Charlie Crist, the Republican nominee for governor, who says it's time for Florida to follow most other states and make restoration of civil rights automatic.
What should be cause for celebrating the end of a sorry chapter in Florida's civil rights history instead becomes grist for the attack machine mill.
Democrats, in full campaign mode, can't resist. Rather than welcome Crist's belated support, they call him a flip-flopper and a panderer.
"Charlie-come-late," said Rep. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, in a conference call arranged by the Democratic Party. "A real opportunist," said Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, D-Miami.
Their reactions help illustrate why Democrats have such a hard time winning elections in Florida. Their first impulse is to make a partisan attack rather than solve the problem.
Yes, and the Republicans are so bi-partisan and fair, Bousquet (I believe he uses the French pronunciation, but I prefer the hard T. Works better for the headline). Especially when Crist attacked Davis for meeting with "terrorists" in his carpet-bombing television ad campaign. I don't think the Times ever bothered to call Crist out for that shameless and revolting ploy, either.
On October 22, he led his story this way:
"Charlie Crist's leadership style can best be described as a shrewdly timed brand of populism."
God, does it ever stop? When did reporting on politics become a race to shower praise on a particular candidate? Just click here and go down the line. In summing up Crist today, Bousquet uses the following terms:
"engaging" "moderate" "worked doggedly" "made it look easy" "populist" "breezy" "everyman" "hard work" "upbeat" "new breed of Republican" "tough on crime"
How much did the dude get from the GOP cash machine to stuff all this tripe into one story? To be fair, it wasn't just Bousquet. The Times coverage, overall, was pretty pathetic in hindsight. And Smith seems to admit that all the Times and the rest of the media learned about Crist was superficial junk. Might it be because Crist is a superficial man? And Smith doesn't even bring up mystery No. 1: Is Crist gay and lying about it? Is he a closeted hypocrite? When I presented evidence that two GOP staffers have been talking of having sexual relationships with Crist, Bousquet and the Times mentioned it -- angrily and dismissively -- in passing. But not only did they steer clear of serious reporting on that very important matter (they obviously didn't learn anything from their profound failure to report Mark Foley's e-mails), but they let Crist play them like a fiddle on the issue. Here's a great example, January 16, 2006 Buzz blog entry from Adam C. Smith titled "Florida's Most Eligible Gubernatorial Candidate":
"From a White House Christmas party to this morning's Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in St. Petersburg, the couple is being spotted more and more: Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and Katie Pemble, the chief operating officer of the Bank of St. Petersburg. 'We're dating,'' the longtime Banker confirmed to the Times' Mary Jane Park this morning."
Garbage. Pemble disappeared as quickly as she appeared and nobody was the wiser. Now Smith implies in today's piece that the Times is actually going to try to figure out who Crist is. Too bad they didn't let their readers know before the election.
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After the jump: Ken Keechl Doesn't Hide and Till Gets Some Revenge
-- What I failed to mention about Ken Keechl in the previous post is that he's Broward County's first-ever openly gay commissioner. Key word: openly. That's pretty cool. Oh, and she's baaaaa-aaaack. Stacy Ritter returns from political exile as a county commissioner. Ritter, somewhere between a diva and brat, will make local politics a little more interesting. Here's a Miami Herald story by Amy Sherman and Trenton Daniel on the commission races.
-- In the school board race, Marty Rubenstein fell victim to Till's revenge. Voters knocked him out for knocking out the superintendent. In his place is perennial candidate Phyllis C. Hope, who the Herald's Hannah Sampson describes as "a Piper High School guidance specialist who raised far less money, held poetry readings as campaign events and boasted a rap song as her campaign anthem."
And I want to leave you with a blast from the past, namely a January 16, 2006 Buzz blog entry from Adam C. Smith titled "Florida's Most Eligible Gubernatorial Candidate." You must already know who it's about, but looking back it's so interesting to see how Charlie Crist -- who is NOT Florida's first openly gay governor -- played the press like a fiddle when it came to questions about where he likes to put his winkie.