Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why I'd Still Hold My Nose And Vote For Meek


Kendrick Meek is far from my idea of a good candidate. The Florida Democratic braintrust picked him not to win but to turn out the African-American base for other Democrats up and down the ticket. I hope their gamble pays off and no one pays too much attention to what a weak and corrupt figure Meek is and how unworthy he is to have ever gone beyond the state legislature.

So I'm joining Howard Dean in supporting Charlie Crist now, right? No, wrong. First of all, that whole Howard Dean thing was just some silliness pushed out through never reliable right-wing propaganda channels. And second, no matter how bad Meek will be as a senator, he'll always be much better than Charlie Crist.

As a Brookings study released earlier today showed: "In both the House and the Senate, the most conservative Democrat is more liberal than is the most liberal Republican." Judging by their respective records, Crist is unlikely to be the most liberal Republican and Meek, though not a leader, will be far from the most conservative Democrat. He may not be my idea of a decent Rep for a rock-solid Democratic congressional district-- and he's almost as sleazy as his mentor Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- but he's never going to be like Blanche Lincoln or Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh. He's basically a moderate who does what he's told. And Crist is a deceitful-- let's face it, by their nature all closet queens are instinctually-- and opportunistic hack.

Even before the announcement today, Crist's campaign started giving "partial refunds" to angry Republican donors. (Cornyn wants his money back too; I bet he wishes he had never persuaded Crist to run, let alone crowned him the GOP candidate.) This morning Chris Cillizza asked the question I've been tweeting for two weeks:
Which side will he caucus with if elected?: Crist is almost certain to deflect this question, which will be asked of him repeatedly if he goes independent. But, his side-stepping won't stop it from being asked until it's answered. While a governor can get away with avoiding party labels-- the essence of the job is competency and accomplishments not partisanship-- a Senator simply cannot. Federal races are, by their very nature, far more partisan affairs and it's impossible for any candidate to avoid answering the question of which side they will caucus with if they get elected. Crist will undoubtedly cast his decision as a sort of "pox on both your houses" choice but, at the end of the day, there is no independent caucus. (The two elected independents-- Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont both caucus with Democrats.) Crist is almost certain to have to choose a side and, in so doing, runs the risk of losing votes-- no matter which side he picks.

Cillizza was writing in the context of winning the race. I was tweeting away furiously in the context of what Senator Crist would do in regard to actually caucusing. Could he really ever do anything else other than revert to habit and pop back out of the closet as a 100% bona fide Republican, albeit a sometimes slightly moderate one (relatively speaking)? I don't think so-- which is why I'd vote for Meek, no matter how distasteful that choice is.

The idea of Charlie Crist running against the system is a bit bizarre but he did make his announcement-- late, which for Crist is anything but bizarre-- and he said, "Our political system is broken... I believe in democracy and the right to choose." Most of the framing so far is that he's an opportunist and this is all about "me, me, me." Well, he's a politician, so that isn't saying much.

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At 10:32 AM, Blogger DonD said...

The statement that whichever party Crist chooses to caucus with will lose him votes is disingenuous... he can't lose votes he doesn't already have, and the statement thus makes the impossible assumption that he already has all those votes, which obviously can't be true.

I suspect Crist will probably caucus with Republicans, but that will depend on how bitter the battle becomes. If Cornyn and others resort to a lot of pressure, ask for their money back,
ostracise him, negative campaign ads, etc... then if he wins anyway, what would he gain by caucusing with them?

And if the reward for favoring them is that, if they're still the minority party, and he wins, they'll demand that he must support legislation he really opposes...

But maybe Crist can avoid answering the question. Maybe he can simply be a Senator without affiliation. One who will have a vote on legislation, but doesn't have to be on any committees, and is free to vote as sees fit, in the best interests of Florida. This would be a refreshing change from his Republican colleagues who are too often compelled to vote, in the best interests of their Party, rather than their state.


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