Archive: April, 2010
Now that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has officially decided to bolt the Republican party and run for the U.S. Senate this fall as an independent, thereby transforming that race into a fascinating three-way free-for-all, political scribes are naturally speculating this morning about his prospects for victory in November. I actually covered a lot of that ground eight days ago, when Crist was busy mulling his move, so I won't repeat myself now. Nor will I focus on conservative Republican Marco Rubio, the tea party favorite whose Senate candidacy has essentially driven the politically moderate Crist right out of the GOP.
Instead, let's talk today about Crist's likely Democratic opponent, Kendrick Meek. More specifically, let's talk about the key aspect of Meeks's candidacy that very few observers seem willing to discuss:
The crusade to "take our country back" is clearly a full-time endeavor that requires the participation of all real Americans, including our public officials. This is a brief rundown of some actual stuff that has actually been passed or proposed in recent days and weeks by actual lawmakers who were elected by actual voters. Here are my favorite four. They'll leave you dewey-eyed and bursting with patriotic pride:
1. On Tuesday, Georgia lawmakers sent to the governor a bill that will allow people to carry their guns into Georgia airports. The governor reportedly plans to sign it. What a relief. Until now, people have been denied the inherent freedom to tote their weapons at critical airport moments - for instance, while watching friends print out their boarding passes. Freedom will also be restored to the guys who feel the need to pack a piece while peeing in the restroom. Under the law's provisions, people will be able to carry their guns right up until they reach the federal security checkpoints - which is a great thing, when you think about it, because until now Georgians have been forced to patronize those gift shops, and buy overpriced bottled water and munchies, while completely unarmed. I wouldn't want to live in that kind of country.
On numerous fronts:
A few Republicans have finally broken the party's thunderous silence about Arizona's pioneering "papers, please" immigration law, the one that empowers cops to stop anyone who might seem suspicious. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush voiced concerns about the law yesterday, as did Karl Rove and Senator Lindsey Graham. But the most noteworthy critic is Marco Rubio, the imminent Florida GOP Senate nominee and the darling of conservatives everywhere. In a statement released yesterday, Rubio said:
Arizona's new immigration law has prompted me to revise the lyrics of a popular '70s Eagles song, "Takin' It Easy," so that it can be sung by an Hispanic:
Well I'm standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see -
It's a cop, my Lord, in a Crown Vic Ford,
Slowin' down to take a look at me...
The Democratic strategy for surviving the '10 midterm elections was spelled out this morning in a new video message starring Barack Obama. It's no mystery what he wants to do - rekindle the '08 magic - though it's debatable whether he can pull it off.
He says he wants to "make sure the same people who were inspired to vote for the first time in 2008 go back to the polls in 2010....This year, we’re going to reconnect with voters like Claudia Schulz. At 29 years old, Claudia had never been involved in the political process because she didn't think one person could make a difference. But in 2008, Claudia joined millions of other supporters like you and made her first-ever trip to the polls."He says "the stakes are higher than ever" in 2010, because the Republicans, if successful in November, stand poised "to undo all that we have accomplished." To thwart a GOP victory, he needs "to make sure that young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women, who powered our victory in 2008, stand together once again," and "make sure that first-time voters in 2008 make their voices heard again in November."
It was another offbeat week in politics, so let's do a few shout-outs.
Toy of the Week: The RomneyDoll. Wind him up and watch him writhe. He's still trying to defend his Massachusetts universal health care law (which mandates that people must buy insurance), while somehow insisting that it's very different from Barack Obama's universal health care law (which mandates that people must buy insurance).
The conservative purists have long been gunning for Charlie Crist, the moderate Republican Florida governor whose quest for the GOP Senate nomination has been cratering for months. The purists are currently in the process of lifting him by the scruff of the neck, and heaving him onto the curb. They've made it clear that there's no room for Crist inside the purified Republican party. They're saying, in so many words, that he should buzz off and slink away.
However, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, it doesn't appear that Crist has any intention of going gently in that good night. He now seems poised to relaunch himself as an independent candidate for the open Senate seat - setting up a three-way autumn skirmish with Democrat Kendrick Meek and conservative Republican flavor of the year Marco Rubio; offering voters a stark choice between moderate pragmatism and tea-party fervor; and putting the conservative purists on notice that their cleansing impulses could wind up costing the Republicans a Senate seat.
In these highly polarized times - when every crucial U.S. Supreme Court decision seems to hinge on a 5-4 vote, when every Supreme Court vacancy prompts the ideological activists to spew volcanic ash - it was downright refreshing yesterday to see the berobed brethren rule on a major free-speech case with near unanimity. Let us pause to celebrate.
John Roberts and Antonin Scalia on the same side as the liberals...hey, in America, anything is possible. What's arguably most striking is that they were all in sync on a sensitive First Amendment issue, one of those cases where jurists are virtually compelled, as a matter of constitutional principle, to defend a repulsive form of free expression.