Charlie Crist, the GOP and the curious refusal to compromise

The Republican Party’s civil war is about to get really interesting. Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist — a Republican who would be trounced in a GOP primary by tea party favorite Marco Rubio — is reportedly leaving his party to seek a post in the U.S. Senate as an independent. According to a Quinnipiac poll from last week, Crist could win a three-way race:

The newest Quinnipiac University poll shows Republican Marco Rubio with a 56-to-33 percent lead over Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

If Crist were to leave the GOP and run as a no-party candidate, the poll found him with a lead within the poll’s margin of error: 32 percent for Crist, 30 percent for Rubio and 24 percent for Kendrick Meek. That poll of 1,250 Florida voters had a 2.8 percent margin of error. The GOP poll of 497 voters had a 4.4 percent margin of error.

Crist has been, in effect, drummed out of his party for the sin of being a moderate. He endorsed John McCain. He accepted, with gratitude, funds from Obama’s stimulus package. He compromised with Democrats in the Florida legislature. In the new rules seemingly in effect in the Republican Party, the notion of moderation is anathema.

The hyperpartisan Jim DeMint, GOP Sen. from South Carolina, embodies the new view. Embracing far-right GOP candidates, DeMint has repeatedly declared that he’d rather have 30 pure conservatives in the Senate than a majority of squishy Republicans.

“Jim DeMint just doesn’t bend much, and that’s why he’s going to have very little trouble getting reelected,” said Katon Dawson, the former South Carolina GOP chairman and a DeMint ally. “DeMint has been one of the U.S. senators who has stepped forward to carry the conservative banner.”

Still, others say DeMint is wrong to insist that candidates across the country fit his ideological mold. Referring to DeMint’s claim that he would like to see a conference of 30 pure conservatives, one GOP official shuddered: “If we were to adhere to his candidate selection, he would get his wish.”

I find the refusal to brook any compromise — which has kept the Senate Republican caucus on the sidelines for the last year — a strange trait in politicians elected in a democratic republic. The very nature of the U.S. Congress insists on compromise if you wish to accomplish anything. While the rigid right wing claims they want to emulate the Founding Fathers, the founders clearly believed in compromise. There would never have been a U.S. Constitution without it.
Conservative David Frum, who has not given up his hold on rational thought, chastised the Senate Republicans for their refusal to compromise on the health care legislation:

A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

Shortly after he posted that item on his blog, Frum was bounced out of his job at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. The GOP is becoming a teeny tiny tent.

174 comments Add your comment

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
2:59 pm

Teeny tiny tent? Come on I thought you went to journalism school.

Tea Party Meber

April 28th, 2010
3:01 pm

HOW IS THIS GOIN 2 REDEUCE MY TAXS?

Union

April 28th, 2010
3:05 pm

gotta love those FL teachers unions.. forget the kids.. we be making money down here..

Jimbo

April 28th, 2010
3:07 pm

ct, when is “National Day of Prayer”?

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
3:11 pm

Mr Obama ran on compromise and I have not seen any from his regime. Why blame the Republicans for sticking to their principals? Are you following Mr Frum on Twitter?

Jimbo

April 28th, 2010
3:11 pm

Nevermind, I found the answer:
This year obozo (barry to you and I) canceled the 21st annual National Day of Prayer ceremony at the White House under the rouse of “not wanting to offend anyone”

On September 25, 2009 from 4 am until 7 pm, a National Day of Prayer for the Muslim religion was Held on Capitol Hill, Beside the White House.
There were over 50,000 Muslims that Day in DC.
Hmmmmm.

Hank Johnson

April 28th, 2010
3:13 pm

Way too many old people there, gonna flip the country. Gotta nail down the West coast.

ctucker

April 28th, 2010
3:14 pm

Auburn Fan, You don’t like “teeny tiny”?

Rafe Hollister

April 28th, 2010
3:24 pm

Sin-thee: The days of moderates in either party is past. The Dems trashed those in their party that did not support Obamacare. Many others that oppossed were forced by Pelosi/Reed to support the bill even tho their constituents back home oppossed the bill. Who would ever vote for a conservative Democrat, when you know that their loyal is to the party first and their ideology second.

We as Reps have to vote for those who will stand up for conservative principals and not be bought off by a post office named for them or an airport built in their small county. The days of voting for the man and not the party are over, too many of our representatives represent themselves and not the people back home. You might as well vote for a Democrat as to vote for a Arlen Spector (oops, he is now a Democrat), make that Olympia Snow.

It is all hands on deck to defeat Barry’s socialist agenda, no time for wishy washy people who haven’t quite made up their mind about the issues after 50 years or so. Charlis Crist is a tradional political hack, who holds his finger to the wind and decides how he feels for the day, kinda like Bill Clinton. He made his bed, let him lie there. He will be defeated by Marco.

The Snark

April 28th, 2010
3:29 pm

Hey AUBURN FAN:

If you are determined to wreck our country’s system of governance for the sake of your principles, at least spell it correctly. It’s “principle,” not “principal.” “Principle’ is something you believe in. “Principal” is the term for an amount borrowed, as in: “The Reagan and Bush administrations added trillions to the principal of America’s debt while bashing their opponents as the ‘party of tax and spend.’”

Sick&Tired

April 28th, 2010
3:31 pm

Any group that relies on ” :) Group Think Mentality :) ” is always headed to the Teeny Tiny Tent.

Crenshaw8

April 28th, 2010
3:32 pm

Is Spectre going to switch back to the GOP because he trailing Toomey by double digits in Pennsylvania. So is the other demwit. I hold turncoats in low regard.

Rafe Hollister

April 28th, 2010
3:34 pm

The larger tent was erected by a very few to shelter an evergrowing mass of non-contributors. Our teeny tiny tent was erected by everyone housed there and the stakes were driven deep into bedrock, not shifting sands.

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
3:37 pm

No question that Bush spent too much money. This why his approval rating was so low with Republicans. That does not mean that we have to agree with Mr. Obama on more spending that WE CAN NOT AFFORD. That is the problem. We are broke.

blutto

April 28th, 2010
3:37 pm

CT: “The GOP is becoming a teeny tiny tent.”

Nevertheless, it is large enough to win November’s elections and those of 2012. As a Floridian, I can assure you that Governor Crist has not been drummed out of the Republican Party. He has been informed through polling that Florida Republicans prefer Marco Rubio by a large majority.

As for Mr. Frum, are we to presume that if a writer for a liberal think tank wrote a piece critical of Senate Democrats he would be given a raise rather than his walking papers?

Union

April 28th, 2010
3:38 pm

“drummed out of his party for the sin of being a moderate”

funny how people want goldman to be responsible.. but we toss billions and billions of dollars out the window without one shred of accountability..

Union

April 28th, 2010
3:41 pm

blutto
April 28th, 2010
3:37 pm

Frum has a new column up.. says wall street is not to blame for the economic crisis.. still waiting for CT to link to that one..

Dave R.

April 28th, 2010
3:42 pm

Laughing out loud when Cynthia writes a column about the GOP not compromising.

Watched the Dem leadership in Congress much in the past 16 months?

ctucker

April 28th, 2010
3:42 pm

Rafe, Who got trashed?

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
3:44 pm

Who is in the teeny tiny tent? Angry white folks?

Tech man

April 28th, 2010
3:46 pm

Kinda like the Democrats telling Hillary she needed to get out the Presidental race for the good of the party.

Rafe Hollister

April 28th, 2010
3:47 pm

All of those Dem representatives that Obama said he would not campaign for because they did not vote for Obamacare. Names escape me but Heath Shuler, NC was one.

Granny Godzilla

April 28th, 2010
3:47 pm

Good for Charlie!

I don’t think the GOP refusal to compromise is in the least bit curious.
Their fearless leader stated it early on….they want Obama to fail.

I do however hope they keep it up just a few more months…it’s a strategy that continues to not work for them – which is good for the rest of us.

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
3:48 pm

If Mr Frum says so, I have to believe it.

Dave

April 28th, 2010
3:51 pm

Cynthia, when Joe Lieberman was booted out by the Democrats back in 2006, where was your editorial condemning Democrats for their “refusal to compromise.”

Cynthia, you’re the main reason why the AJC’s circulation is in the crapper.

Rafe Hollister

April 28th, 2010
3:52 pm

Jim Marshall and John Barrow will find it hard to get money from the DNC and Obama will withhold his support.

Why are white folk not entitled to be angry, seems all the hyphenated Americans are always angry about something.

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
3:52 pm

Granny wait until November to see if that works or not. Mr Obama was elected because people were tired of Mr Bush and his spending. I am hoping November will prove you wrong.

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
3:56 pm

Dave good point on Lieberman.

Union

April 28th, 2010
3:58 pm

Granny Godzilla
April 28th, 2010
3:47 pm

Good for Charlie!

I always knew liberals were big liars when they talk about doing things for the children..

Granny Godzilla

April 28th, 2010
4:02 pm

Auburn Fan

Thanks for the polite response.

I’d happily bet you the best chocolate malt in town over who will be proven wrong in November.

Granny Godzilla

April 28th, 2010
4:03 pm

Union

what’s your problem?

Granny Godzilla

April 28th, 2010
4:03 pm

oh and who were you last week?

Union

April 28th, 2010
4:05 pm

gee.. I dunno.. there was an “attempt” to make some govt employees accountable for their actions.. you know.. just like the rest of the world.. you screw up… you lose your job.. except these folks… and they are supposed to be working with the children.. but liberals don’t like accountability.. neither does obama.. so thats my problem

Mallory

April 28th, 2010
4:06 pm

RINOS aren’t grounded which is why they drift with the wind. Just hot air balloons, they.

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
4:08 pm

You got a bet Granny. Where we meeting for the Malt?

not on my watch

April 28th, 2010
4:08 pm

did somebody use “union” “teachers” “money” and “florida” in the same sentence

Granny Godzilla

April 28th, 2010
4:13 pm

Union

Find a state, gather all your like minded buds and start your own country.

I suggest Texas.

Granny Godzilla

April 28th, 2010
4:14 pm

Auburn Fan

Who makes the best Malt? I’m a Steak and Shake fan but I’m open to compromise.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

April 28th, 2010
4:15 pm

Taranto:

Crist Almighty
Florida’s Gov. Charlie Crist “has decided he will run as an independent in the race to fill the Florida U.S. Senate seat,” Fox News reports, citing “Crist allies.” The official announcement is set for tomorrow afternoon.

Crist had been heavily favored to win the Republican primary for the open seat, but Marco Rubio, conservative speaker of the Florida House, mounted a strong challenge and of late has held a seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls. Crist is positioning himself as a “moderate” Republican, the GOP equivalent of Joe Lieberman, who won re-election as Connecticut’s junior senator in 2006 after being defeated in the Democratic primary by the left-wing Ned Lamont. But the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza points out some important distinctions.

One is that there was no serious Republican candidate in the Connecticut race, so that Lieberman was able to take most of the GOP vote as well as a majority of independents and a small share of Democrats. In Florida, Rep. Kendrick Meek will be the Democratic nominee, and he would be the obvious choice for voters who object to Rubio on ideological grounds.

Even more important, Lieberman’s candidacy was a principled one:
In the wake of his [primary] loss to Lamont, most general election voters attributed the defeat to the fact that Lieberman refused to back away from his support for the war in Iraq–a position he cast as a stand on principle. (Liberal Democrats would almost certainly disagree with that characterization but it was the prevailing perception among many Connecticut voters.) Losing on principle made Lieberman a sympathetic–and hence electable–candidate in a general election. Crist will have a harder time making the “principled stand” justification if he switches as it will have come after months of polling showing him with next-to-no path to victory in the Republican primary against Rubio. If he does switch, expect Crist to make some sort of “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me” appeal to independent voters but Rubio is doing everything he can to frame a Crist switch in the most crass political terms possible.

Two weeks ago, Crist vetoed a merit-pay bill that was fiercely opposed by teachers unions. Crist, a former supporter of merit pay, did not take a position on this measure until the veto. If you want to look unprincipled, there’s no better way to do it than to flip-flop at the last minute. And it’s unlikely to get him anywhere: Does anyone doubt that the teachers union will endorse the Democrat? Crist is American politics’ most Stupakian figure since Bart Stupak. No, scratch that–he’s even more Stupakian. Stupak at least had the dignity to retire after selling out his principles and getting nothing in return.

Auburn Fan

April 28th, 2010
4:16 pm

Am I the only person that was surprised at how liberal Mr Obama was? I believed him when he said he was a moderate and Warren Buffett was a drinking buddy. Why does he not listen to Mr Buffett now?

CarlosHawes

April 28th, 2010
4:19 pm

Re: Liberman.

See, here’s how it works. To Ms. Tucker et al in the Dinosaur media, when the Democrat party ousts one of their own, it’s the “party rank and file standing up for what they believe in.” When the GOP primary voters reject one of their own, its “failure to compromise” or “intolerance of moderates”.

Got it????

The Udder side!!!!!

April 28th, 2010
4:21 pm

Rafe Hollister

April 28th, 2010
3:24 pm

Ok…Now that we know you listen to The Fat Junkie ( Rush) and the Coward ( Hannity), Please tell us which policies are socialist????

Ragnar Danneskjöld

April 28th, 2010
4:22 pm

Think I’ll still put my money on Rubio. The dem is a pretty weak candidate, and Crist is in free-fall with all constituencies. Sorta like Obama.

Granny Godzilla

April 28th, 2010
4:22 pm

Auburn Fan

Weren’t you reading the papers when the National Journal annointed him the most liberal member of congress? More liberal than the Independent member or the openly gay member…..?

He’s no more liberal than Ike was.

Now, Sen Nelson is listening to Warren Buffett….that’s worth a google.

Union

April 28th, 2010
4:23 pm

Granny Godzilla
April 28th, 2010
4:13 pm
“Union

Find a state, gather all your like minded buds and start your own country.

I suggest Texas.”

hmm.. lets see — consult manual for liberals.. ok..page 3.. obama says.. when faced with the truth.. side step issue or insult.. wow.. you managed both.. cynthia is gonna be proud of you

CarlosHawes

April 28th, 2010
4:24 pm

Yup, Benedict Arnold thought he was living large for a little while too. Crist has showed his true colors. It is all about himself, not the voters.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

April 28th, 2010
4:24 pm

A truism of politics: dems always beat moderate republicans, and conservative republicans always beat democrats. Since 1964.

CarlosHawes

April 28th, 2010
4:25 pm

Ragnar Danneskjöld : LOVE the screen name dude!!!! Now go save Rearden Steel from Chief Executive Obama!

MUSTANG100

April 28th, 2010
4:26 pm

REMEMBER IN NOVEMEBER!!!!!!!!!! THE INDIES HAVE AWOKEN!!!!!

JB

April 28th, 2010
4:27 pm

Christ leaving GOP for one reason. He tied his rep to some of the Obama agenda and he his paying for it now. A real conservative with some cred and appeal entered the race and Christ messed in his pants without dropping them…… Bottom line…..