Charlie Crist DEAD WRONG on Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush left the Governor’s office over six years ago, yet his influence continues to permeate our state. This past weekend, Charlie Crist the Democratic front runner for Governor made a ridiculous statement for the ages.

“Yeah, I think he (Bush) probably would (make a good president). He made a great governor, in my humble opinion. He’s a good man…I don’t agree with him on everything…but when I saw him as Governor (of Florida) when I was Attorney General—and they’re elected separately in Florida—we had a lot of hurricanes, and Jeb Bush did a great job protecting our beautiful Florida during that (period).”

I find this very interesting particularly because those of us involved in politics at the time knew Bush didn’t care for Crist’s brand of populism which conflicted directly with the hard-right ideological agenda the Governor was pushing on the state of Florida. Bush marginalized Crist as Commissioner of Education just months into his term in 2001, and worked behind the scenes to defeat him in the 2002 Attorney General GOP Primary. Bush governed with conviction based on an ideology developed in right-wing think tanks across the country. That meant an opportunist like Crist couldn’t carry his legacy forward and he knew it. In 2006, Bush’s allies worked for Tom Gallagher until it was painfully obvious Crist would smash him in the Republican Primary. 

What I also find appalling is the willingness of desperate Florida Democrats devoid of any institutional memory to excuse Crist’s comments. Jeb Bush from the perspective of a true progressive was a worse Governor than Rick Scott. The current Governor is a bit of a bumbling fool, a non-politician whose instincts are conservative but really doesn’t have much of a larger agenda or the desire to be a national figure. But Bush was a national figure from the word go, a person who used Florida as a laboratory to push right-wing ideas untested in other states on education, tort reform, medical malpractice and guns. Many of these schemes were hatched and promoted by out-of-state conservatives, and think-tanks in Washington DC. In Jeb Bush, they found a willing vehicle to undo the 24 years of progress under three exceptional Democratic Governors. They turned Florida from the envy of the south to the laughing-stock of the nation.

Charlie Crist was an active bystander during much of this period. When it suited him he identified with Bush. When it didn’t suit him he played populist. That Crist would want to identify with Bush now as a Democrat, and many Florida Democrats I have spoken to over the last 24 hours think it is okay or just slightly unfortunate is appalling.

Bush was a horrible Governor. He failed to deliver on job promises and his funneling of state funds to Scripps Research Center now looks like a disaster. By contrast, Rick Scott has done better (though not great) with creating jobs and relocating facilities from other states with long-term potential upside. Scott can and needs to do better for our state but when compared to Bush’s sorry legacy in less difficult economic times, it is very telling.

Since Bush and his allies began pushing for school “reforms” Florida’s ratings in academic progress and higher education have continued to decline and we have seen countless for-profit schools go out of business.  The “reforms” pushed by Bush including an over emphasis on standardized testing has contributed to a downturn in morale among Florida’s best and brightest teachers. Despite all of this, Bush’s allies (which might include Crist for all we know) continue to push “reforms”  which cast aspersions on the public school system when in fact the failures in the education system have come from the inadequate funding, constant tinkering of standards, over-emphasis on testing and the push for charter schools/vouchers during the Bush &  Crist Governorships.

The national and state media continue to give Jeb Bush credit for being wonkier on policy, especially when compared to his older brother George W. Bush. From those same pundits we consistently hear about Jeb as a 2016 contender but the reality is that Florida’s Bush is every bit as petty and partisan as Karl Rove and probably more so than his brother, who I don’t think we as harmful to our nation on domestic issues (obviously two wars were) as Jeb Bush was to this state. In Texas, Rove worked with Republican legislators and statewide officials to curb the power and influence of the trial lawyers, whose campaign contributions kept the Democrats competitive against the corporate funded GOP. De-funding the left was the mantra and in Florida, the younger Bush repeated the trick by curbing the power, influence and ultimately the spirit of the trial lawyers and the teachers unions. This was the goal of Jeb Bush’s governorship: to fundamentally remake the political playing field in the state in favor of big business, insurance companies, for-profit schools and polluters. He was successful.

Florida Democrats can do better than simply accepting the premise now circulating that Jeb Bush was a moderate and that he was much less ideological than Rick Scott. I am not sure what exactly Charlie Crist’s agenda is in this matter, but he’s making a fool out of himself, especially considering he is running for Governor as a DEMOCRAT.

We’ve spoken previously on our site about the lack of institutional memory among so many Florida Democrats of today. This is just another example. Making a comment like this should have Crist either apologizing, clarifying or dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination. Instead the outrage is muted and those on the “inside” in the party act as if this is no big deal.

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26 Comments

  1. He should leave the race.

  2. It is a big deal and the insiders better realize that the rest of the party are not Crist or Bush lovers.

  3. Think!

    The joke is on you Kartik. You can push a hyper ideological agenda to your party but some democrats tired of losing know Charlie’s a winner and are ready to work with him. Many republicans are suck of Scott’s bumbling ineptness as you refer to it and want a leader back who can unite those who want to see this state rise.

    Your philosophy articulated in this childish, immature rant is best saved for the local Marxist-Leninist club.

    Even most Dems want jobs created, schools held accountable and run like a business and common sense back in government .

    This is a sickening article. Charlie shouldn’t drop out, you should be banned from writing unless its for a socialist publication.

    • fadedreality1

      This some pretty spot on satire of Republican talking point greatest hits. All you need is to tell Kartik to leave Florida and you’ll have a winner. 7/10!

    • Wow, trolling hard are we?

    • Dems in Action

      You have got to be kidding. You and your ilk think that Charlie has changed and by his comment we see he has not. If Bush is his hero, we don’t want anything to do with him.

    • Think!, When you hide behind an alias your credibility is suspect. Your attack on Kartik is as gutless as Charlie is. If you support Charlie come out of your cave and into the light of truth and honesty.

  4. Patti Lynn

    I continue to wonder WHAT principles Chain Gang Charlie is standing up for. I am also disturbed by those Democrats who appear to excuse EVERY single thing that Charlie Crist has said, done, supported, and denounced. WE…the DEMOCRATIC PARTY of FLORIDA…have a candidate who has: Stood up for the children of Florida; Stood up for the WOMEN of Florida; Stood up for PUBLIC education; Stood up for Marriage Equality; Stood up for Adoption Rights; Stood up for EVERY principle, tenet, program, and platform of THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY of FLORIDA and THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA…and, SHE has no financial support???? You would rather throw your money at someone sho SUPPORTS Jeb Bush??? You believe that DEMOCRATIC voters won’t vote for a Liberal Woman, a Jewish Woman??? They’d rather vote for someone with NO PRINCIPLES, NO STANDARDS, no position that he hasn’t changed 20 times??? HELLO!!!! Democrats…do YOU want a DEMOCRATIC governor in this state? If so, perhaps you might want to vote for the DEMOCRAT in the race, NAN RICH for GOVERNOR!!
    She has NEVER supported Jeb Bush. She has NEVER supported a ban on Gay adoption. She has NEVER supported diverting YOUR tax dollars from public education to PRIVATE-FOR PROFIT schools.
    She has ALWAYS supported a WOMAN’S right to control her own body. She has ALWAYS supported transparency in government. She has ALWAYS supported public education. She has ALWAYS supported a separation of church and state. She has ALWAYS supported EQUAL RIGHTS. She has ALWAYS supported Domestic Partnerships, Gay Marriage, and Gay Adoption. She has ALWAYS supported DEMOCRATIC VALUES.

    Whatever else, I am appalled at the selective greed motive in politics. If YOU, as a Florida voter, want to elect a DEMOCRATIC candidate for Governor…your choices are limited. NAN RICH is the ONLY candidate who is a DEMOCRAT. Others, (Hello Charlie!!), may claim to be Democratic…but…that’s NOT what their record says!!!

    NAN RICH for GOVERNOR of FLORIDA!!!

  5. Progressive Engineer

    Well said… Jeb Bush really screwed Florida. Crist was not much better. While Rick Scott is a monster much of the damage that has filled and privatized our prisons and devastated our public education system with vouchers and the FCAT has already been done. If Crist cannot see Jeb Bush for what he is and call him out on it, then we should not support him. Imagine two years from now a Democratic Governor Charlie Crist endorsing and or campaigning for Jeb Bush. That is what you can expect should Charlie get elected.

  6. Floridian

    A LOT of democrats voted for Jeb.

    He won twice in landslides.

    CC knows what he’s doing.

  7. Kevin Cerino

    You make some great points, but the fact is that most Democrats just don’t care. If you don’t believe me, I would suggest that you try a little experiment. Print out copies of this article (or a brief summary). Distribute said copies to everyone in attendance of the next Broward Democratic Executive Committee meeting. Then make a motion to hold a straw poll between Crist and Rich. This should show you just how much you fellow grassroots Democrats care about ideology.

    • Oh I don’t disagree…it’s a pity but Broward is probably the WORST Democratic Party for this along with Palm Beach. Winning at all costs, ideology and values do not matter.

      • Kevin Cerino

        Do you think that there are ANY county DEC’s where Nan Rich would win a straw poll?

      • Yes, several in the central and northeastern part of the state. Again these are DECs dominated by activists most of whom are ideological in those areas. It doesn’t mean she would win the primary in those counties, but I think of places like Volusia, Orange, Flagler and Polk where the DECs are very much dominated by liberal activists unlike Broward and Palm Beach where they are dominated by political people who are anxious to get ahead working with the entrenched Democratic power bases in the county. Again it does not mean Rich wins the primary in those counties, but I believe she wins a straw poll of DEC members in those places.

  8. Blue Dog Dem

    Nan Rich is too leftist to be elected governor…

    HOWEVER

    If the Ds run and lose with Crist which I think is likely the party itself becomes a completely irrelevant entity of bitter malcontents rather than issues based.

    The Ds are much better off sticking on principle with Rich than risking it all on Crist. And this comes from a conservative Dem.

    Crist is liar and I would vote for Scott over him. Rich is principled and while she’s wrong on many things consistency is needed to govern and build a party.

    I’d support her over Scott. I was hoping Putnam would run but that’s not happening.

    • Patti Lynn

      Thank you, Blue Dog Dem. I agree that, if Crist is the candidate, we will lose…even though I, a very liberal Dem, would vote for him, (while holding my nose and my purse), if he was the Democratic candidate

  9. Kevin, you pay Little attention to Southeast Florida, the land of the free and home of the brave. i have been to a dozen Democratic clubs or caucuses. I have taken a straw poll of the activists and definite primary voters. 80% Nan to 20% Charlie. You are about to witness a historical primary victory for Nan that will carry over to the general election and make 2014 a Democratic success that will be the talk of the nation. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one……………………..”

    • Kevin Cerino

      Will you be making a motion at your next DEC meeting to hold a straw poll too demonstrate just how much support Senator Rich has?

      • Actually I would like to see a professional poll of likely primary voters.

  10. Oran Lindquist

    Left of center is the way to go. Nan Rich is an excellent candidate with more brains in her little pinky than Rick Scott has in his big bald head. If she is not the candidate then the devil himself would be preferable to Scott.

    • janl65

      Floridians cannot afford the damage that a second term for the “worst Florida governor ever” would mean. Scott, as we all know, is an amoral puppet for the hospital industry and the RPOF mafia! We are being pragmatists here, Crist did grow in his career in Tally, and his policies standing up to the awful GOP-controlled agenda as governor proved that. We Dems took note of that. He is NOT a GOP ideologue, never was. And Nan Rich has no chance of winning. We are NOT going there again. It’s Charlie all the way to the Governor’s Mansion. We cannot risk more of this Florida-killer governor!

  11. Broward Bob

    He’s very far from ideal but is the only current Dem who can beat Scott.

Trackbacks

  1. Poll: Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush | The Florida Squeeze
  2. Is Charlie Crist’s shotgun marriage with liberal interest groups threatened by Jeb Bush comemnts | The Florida Squeeze
  3. Nan Rich hits Charlie Crist in State of the State response | The Florida Squeeze
  4. Calls for Democratic Primary debates growing | The Florida Squeeze

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