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Will Republicans Back an Obama Hugger?

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Posted on May 14, 2009
Obama and Crist
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

The hug: President Barack Obama and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist embrace during a town hall meeting in Fort Myers, Fla., in February.

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

When Charlie Crist, Florida’s popular governor, announced this week that he would run for the U.S. Senate, it was the best news the Republican Party has had in an otherwise unpleasant year.

The problem for the GOP is that its right wing quickly decided that the good news was very bad news indeed.

The elation and the desolation had the same source. Party insiders, fearing another difficult year in 2010, see Crist’s moderate image and warm personal style as just what they need to hold a Senate seat that became vulnerable with the retirement of incumbent Mel Martinez.

But conservatives, who have long mistrusted Crist, now loathe him for committing the cardinal sin of enthusiastically endorsing President Obama’s stimulus plan earlier this year. Among right-wing stalwarts, even using the word “stimulus” is a wicked act. They insist on the ugly locution “porkulus,” as in political pork.

Crist even embraced the president during a Florida rally in February, and the hug really got under the skin of the wingers. On Mike Thomas’ Orlando Sentinel blog, a commenter recently declared, in all capital letters: “I as a Republican, will never forget what Gov. Crist did, hugging and kissing Obama and taking all that stimulos (sic) money on TV.” Ouch.

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Marco Rubio, the former Florida House speaker, will be the conservatives’ champion in the primary. In this age of instant communications, Rubio answered Crist’s announcement with an online ad in what might be called an abstract expressionist style.

As a kaleidoscopic picture of Crist’s appearance with Obama comes slowly into focus, the announcer intones against “some politicians” who “support trillions in reckless spending, borrowed money from China and the Middle East, mountains of debt for our children, and a terrible threat to a fragile economy.”

Keep an eye on Rubio, a bright, handsome 37-year-old son of Cuban immigrants. He was mentored by none other than former Gov. Jeb Bush. As soon as Crist announced, Florida political junkies went into overdrive speculating whether Bush would endorse Rubio and turn the primary into a brawl. Rubio is already being touted as the orthodox right’s answer to Obama, and even his adversaries respect his talents.

“Rubio will be scrappy; he’ll give him a run for his money; he’ll give Crist fits,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat who nonetheless expects Crist to prevail.

National Republican leaders certainly hope so because they went out on a limb for Crist almost as soon as he had finished his brief announcement (which, by the way, echoed Bill Clinton in touting the need to “put people first”).

Last week, John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, promised not to endorse anyone in Florida’s Senate primary. But what’s a promise when a Senate seat is at stake? Cornyn came out for Crist, as did Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader. Rubio, on top of his technology, responded on Twitter. “It appears I won’t win the Washington, D.C., primary,” Rubio tweeted. “Lucky for me I am running in the Florida GOP primary.”

Conservative blogs were quick to take Cornyn to task. “Instead of trying to beat conservatives,” John J. Miller harrumphed on National Review’s “The Corner” blog, “the NRSC should save its resources for defeating Democrats.” Oh, this one will be fun.

It will also be deadly serious. With all the media attention that flows to the likes of Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, it’s easy to forget that there are tough-minded Republican professionals who know the party’s ranks are shrinking. According to the exit polls, the proportion of Florida voters who call themselves Republicans fell from 41 percent in 2004 to 34 percent in 2008. And a Quinnipiac poll last month found that Crist’s net approval was marginally higher among Democrats than among those in his own party.

David Winston, a Republican pollster, said Cornyn has learned from Sen. Charles Schumer, who led the Democrats’ successful campaign to take back the Senate in 2006. Schumer was willing to battle local Democrats—his support for Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat in Pennsylvania, was emblematic—to force the nomination of the most electable candidate.

In fact, Crist can be highly flexible, and he may remind Florida conservatives that he was once known as “Chain Gang Charlie” for his advocacy of a return to roadside prison work crews.

Still, Florida will be one of the clearest tests of whether rank-and-file Republican voters are more interested in doctrinal purity, or in winning—even if it means nominating an Obama hugger.

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2009, Washington Post Writers Group


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By BruSays, May 18, 2009 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

Republicans: Please, please, please push for Crist For President in ‘12!

Maybe then can we fully expose the hypocrisy of his anti-gay voting record against his born-gay DNA. Please, to anyone out there who wonders about this man’s future, go see the documentary “OUTRAGE.”

Two important points made by the movie’s writer:

1. They Out Gay Hypocrites - Not Gays They totally respect every gay person’s right to be in, out or at the closet’s doorsill. But they have NO respect for gay politicians who have an overwhelmingly anti-gay voting record, as does Mr. Crist.

2. These People Have Problems. Crist, Craig, McGreevey (for years)...on and on…vote against gay-friendly legislation to somehow “prove” their straightness or to somehow compensate for their self-hate, or self-guilt. They’re so totally in denial they vote against their own best interests.

So please, bring him “OUT” Republicans!

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By ardee, May 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

Kesey Seven, May 16 at 2:27 pm #

Democrats are scared s-less to move to the left because they have all the knuckleheads on the evening news, on CNN, on FOX, MSNBC, in every daily paper, and on every local television news station in America waiting to be shocked and appalled—shocked and appalled!—when someone actually actually speaks truth to a microphone. 
............................

Democrats are scared, in my opinion, of only one thing, losing those fat campaign checks from corporate America.

I certainly concur with your notice that our free press is missing in action, and I consider that loss to be perhaps the single most dangerous event in the protection of our democratic republic.

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By freedom loving american, May 16, 2009 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

You are so right Kesey; and sorry to all about the double post…you must admit I have passion..

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By Kesey Seven, May 16, 2009 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Hi BobZ,

I’m with you. You are right on the money about Kucinich, Obama and the Clintons.

I must say your perfect and precise use of the term “wingnuts” in your first post made me laugh out loud. 

Got to get some work done now.  Have a good day.

Kesey

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By Kesey Seven, May 16, 2009 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

Freedom Loving American,

I like what you say. The only thing I would add is we need to break up the MSM. That would be the starting point.

Democrats are scared s-less to move to the left because they have all the knuckleheads on the evening news, on CNN, on FOX, MSNBC, in every daily paper, and on every local television news station in America waiting to be shocked and appalled—shocked and appalled!—when someone actually actually speaks truth to a microphone. 

A simply would rule would be you can own only one—only one—national media outlet, be it a newspaper, magazine, or news channel.  We would probably have to help support the buggers with endowments because it would be hard for them to make a profit.  But at least they would be independent and they wouldn’t swarm likes flies on excrement each time there is a school shooting, a runaway bride, or non-coital intercourse between a politician and a consenting adult. 

Keep in mind there are good journalists out there. This website is run by a journalist, Robert Scheer. Robertson, Dione, Hedges—all journalists.  There are many more, hundreds if not thousands of great journalists in the United States. They just need their manacles removed. 

Breaking up the corporate media—and it can be done—is integral to freeing the “free press” and getting American back on the right track.

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By BobZ, May 16, 2009 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

Kesey,

I did notice I elevated Crist to Christ like status, although some do believe that Christ did come over to the new world and plant gold tablets or something like that. I personally find it amazing that so many people thought Obama would be a very liberal president. I took him at his word after reading “Audacity of Hope” where he pretty well spelled out what an Obama presidency would look like. I’m suprised when the media is surprised by Obama’s actions. They need to do more reading and less TV watching. Dennis Kuchinich is a true liberal, as is Dean and personally I am more in tune with their views than Obama’s. But neither of them could be elected president which is what counts. I am especially disappointed by how little influence Kuchinich seems to have. He was also on the right side of history with his opposition to the war in Iraaq, and he has taken on big business on many occasions. But I’m glad we have Obama in office. He at least is to the left of the Clinton’s who did a lot of damage to traditional Democratic party values, especially the way they helped eliminate the Glass-Steagall act.

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By Kesey Seven, May 16, 2009 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

Dear BobZ,

I’m not so sure Christ believes in the United States.  Christ, after all, is a historical figure who was largely fictionalized by ancient writers sponsored by what became The Catholic Church.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist a little teasing. 

Your comments about CRIST are spot on, except Reagan hugging Tip O’Neal is of no consequence. Reagan probably thought Tip was Santa Claus drunk as a monkey.  He was just giving the ol’ do-gooder a thank you for Christmas past.

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By Kesey Seven, May 16, 2009 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

Ardee,

We have only gained a little.

We have a president who reads at a doctorate level as opposed to an eighth-grade level.

We have a president with the attention span of a college professor instead of a drug-addled alcoholic who didn’t have an attention span to begin with.

We have someone who is not psychotic about his religion, meaning he prays but he probably doesn’t attribute the words knocking around in his head to the voice of God.

This is good. 

But anyone who voted for Obama thinking he would end the Iraq War and throw Wall Street criminals in jail wasn’t paying close attention. That would have been Kucinich. But Kucinich was banned or marginalized in most debates and fell for a “gotcha” question about UFOs when he did get a chance to speak.  And he had no money. 

And he had no money. 

Perhaps at some point in the future a candidate will arise with Kucinich’s views but have a little more media savvy and a lot more money.

So, overall you are correct. Obama is a mainstream President. Any changes he makes will be incremental. The Dems have moved to the right.

Our only consolation is we no longer have a dumbass on a dry drunk as president and there is no longer a person suffering from vascular dementia running the country from the vice presidency.

Count our small blessings.

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By Matt, May 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Of course the Republicans will back and Obama hugger.  Obama is the GOP’s man!  Not only did he increase the defense budget but he is protecting the old regime from prosecution of torture, bailing out the banksters, gutting the public coffers, and guaranteeing the continuation of the Neocon corpratist globalist New World Order agenda.  Whats not to like about that?

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By BobZ, May 15, 2009 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

Christ is the port in the storm for the GOP - someone who actually acts rational. What a contrast to the bookend wingnuts Perry and Sanford. Christ could be the future of the GOP, someone who can attract moderates, independents, people of color, and young people. What’s not to like except he isn’t Rush Limbaugh thank God. Christ actually believes in America versus just talking about it. He wants the best for his state and his country instead of clinging to ideological purity like some cultist. Christ could even get some Democrats to vote for him. Good God, even Reagan hugged Democrats including Tip O’Neal.

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By freedom loving american, May 15, 2009 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

The Republican Party’s policies have always supported the rich and powerful, while doping the dumb and foolish.  The always play on greed, fear, hate, and most recently TERROR.  They have no morals values or ethics. Besides the Democratic Party is way farther to the right than the republican party was prior to lets say 1980, anyone remember what happened that year? 
If you talk to average Americans you would find democrats, green party supporters, independents, libertarians and others.  Few, if any republicans.  But since republicans own and control America they have the MSM in addition to all the rightwinghatenut media, so it appears Americans are divided regarding which political party they support. 
This is only an illusion the republican stranglehold on our “free press” has created. Most Americans are far far far to the left of the democrats in congress.
Since at the present time we only have two choices for our elections we simply must try to elect more fair minded democrats, and in the future elect some democrats that lean a little to the left.  No not by the republican owned MSM standards but by real standards.

We need to start by taxing the stock exchanges, taxing the bank industries until the trillions they stole are recovered and a surplus fund is established when future plundering takes place.  They we need to get back to fair and reasonable income tax rates that allowed us to balance the budget in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.  It was only after Reagan/Friedman, American hating, voodoo economics that have gripped the nation ever since that we developed deficit spending. 

Anyway, since bush anyone that votes republican should be shot as a trader, for treason, supporting known terrorist, and stupidity.

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By freedom loving american, May 15, 2009 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

The Republican Party’s policies have always supported the rich and powerful, while doping the dumb and foolish.  They always play on greed, fear, hate, and most recently TERROR.  They have no morals values or ethics. Besides the Democratic Party is farther to the right than the republican party was prior to lets say 1980, anyone remember what happened that year? 
If you talk to average Americans you would find democrats, green party supporters, independents, libertarians and others.  Few, if any republicans.  But since republicans own and control America they have the MSM in addition to all the rightwinghatenut media, so it appears Americans are divided regarding which political party they support. 
This is only an illusion the republican stranglehold on our “free press” has created. Most Americans are far far far to the left of the democrats in congress.
Since at the present time we only have two choices for our elections we simply must try to elect more fair minded democrats, and in the future elect some democrats that lean a little to the left.  No not by the republican owned MSM standards but by real standards.

We need to start by taxing the stock exchanges, taxing the bank industries until the trillions they stole are recovered and a surplus fund is established when future plundering takes place.  They we need to get back to fair and reasonable income tax rates that allowed us to balance the budget in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.  It was only after Reagan/Friedman, American hating, voodoo economics that have gripped the nation ever since that we developed deficit spending. 

Anyway, since bush anyone that votes republican should be tried as a trader, for treason, supporting known terrorists, and stupidity.

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By katemcshane, May 15, 2009 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

Will his candidacy survive being outed? In OUTRAGE?  I haven’t seen the film, but I read that he was one of the politicians they mention.

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By Big B, May 15, 2009 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

Crist’s career has already suffered under the yoke of repug opression. He should have been on the short list for the 2008 repug nomination, but because of his somewhat moderate stance on social issues and those nagging gay rumors.(However he did prudently marry a local hottie, just to prove to limbaugh and his mom that he’s a “straight arrow”)He was on the outside looking in while the repug powers that be nominated the sellout Mccain.

If Crist is the skilled politian I think he is, he will pull a Spector and swap coats tomorrow.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 15, 2009 at 4:04 am Link to this comment

ardee, May 15 at 5:38 am #

I wish I could join in the enthusiasm of ITW in his assertion that the Right has lost. Unfortunately my common sense asserts itself and I must note that, while the GOP is encountering great difficulties in elections, this is no doubt a temporary phenomenon given the cyclic nature of American politics.

Further, if one gives honest attention to facts, the obvious emerges quickly; where it matters the most our decisions are still being made in favor of the corporate right. While the GOP does appear to be in the hands of lunatics for the moment the nation itself is firmly in the grasp of the banks, the pharmaceutical companies and the weapons manufacturers.

It seems that, as the GOP drifts onto the rocks of extremism, the Democrats move silently and inevitably to the right , so what have we gained?
**********************************************

I’m not sure I agree, but in answer to your final question (if you are right), we’ve gained the MOST precious commodity—TIME!

We nearly ran out of it with Botch&co;. They nearly converted us into a true fascist/feudal state.  While we still are in danger, I believe and I MUST believe we are still salvageable.  Because we bought TIME.

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By ardee, May 15, 2009 at 2:38 am Link to this comment

I wish I could join in the enthusiasm of ITW in his assertion that the Right has lost. Unfortunately my common sense asserts itself and I must note that, while the GOP is encountering great difficulties in elections, this is no doubt a temporary phenomenon given the cyclic nature of American politics.

Further, if one gives honest attention to facts, the obvious emerges quickly; where it matters the most our decisions are still being made in favor of the corporate right. While the GOP does appear to be in the hands of lunatics for the moment the nation itself is firmly in the grasp of the banks, the pharmaceutical companies and the weapons manufacturers.

It seems that, as the GOP drifts onto the rocks of extremism, the Democrats move silently and inevitably to the right , so what have we gained?

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, May 14, 2009 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

Hey! Right Wing: You LOST! Got it? The United States of America has categorically rejected you because you f***ed everything up for 8 straight years, made a few people richer, and hundreds of millions of Americans poorer.

Your bid to turn America into a corporate fascist state nearly worked, but it still failed.  Nobody wants the neo-cons anymore. They proved everything they believe in is wrong.

Now there’s a chance to build a real opposition, something a democracy needs to create discourse, raise REAL objections (not phony ones like “We’re gonna be made communists!”) and offer real, practical alternatives, not just “We need to cut the capital gains tax to zero!”

It’s time to start listening to McCain…not Sen. John, but his daughter, Meghan.

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