Sometimes, people try a little too hard to demonstrate that they’ve changed — and Charlie Crist seems to have fallen into that trap.  When he met with the St. Petersburg Times editors yesterday to explain his independent bid after having flopped at the Republican Party establishment candidate, Crist came out in support of Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court.  That came as a surprise to the Times, since Crist had opposed the more-qualified Sonia Sotomayor when Crist had the warm embrace of the Beltway GOP:

What does he think of the nomination of Elena Kagan? “A lot.I think she’d do a great job. … Isn’t that fun,” added the candidate who opposed Justice Sotomayor when conservatives were turning on him. “Honesty is the best policy.”

Oh yeah … honesty.  How is Kagan qualitatively a better candidate than Sotomayor, who had eleven years of experience on the appellate bench?  Either Crist is being honest about Kagan after being dishonest about Sotomayor, or the other way around.

In May 2009, though, the NRSC backed Crist’s play for the US Senate.  The national party did their best to discourage Marco Rubio and his supporters, arguing as they did for Arlen Specter before he ran out of the GOP that supporting incumbents and heavily-favored leaders gave Republicans their best shot at winning seats.  If Crist couldn’t be honest with voters then because of some deal he cut with Republicans — which seems unlikely, since the national GOP pursued Crist and not the other way around — then Crist should explain that.  Otherwise, he’s just an opportunist, not the Last Honest Man In Politics.

Putting that aside for the moment, the endorsement of Kagan as a “great” and “fun” pick hardly makes Crist an independent.  Many Democrats wouldn’t go that far in praising Kagan.  If he’s going to compete for cheerleading honors with Kendrick Meek, why does Florida need him as an “independent” at all?  Wouldn’t Floridians who want an Obama cheerleader naturally choose the Democrat in the race?

Besides, his defection apparently has left Crist with a brain-trust gap.  After most of his staff walked out, Crist had to pick a new campaign manager — and his choice makes it appear that he didn’t have too many resumes cluttering his desk:

It’s his big sister, Margaret Crist Wood, there in the background of this photograph by Scott Keeler. She officially is called interim campaign manager, the governor said, but only to give her an opportunity to step down if she doesn’t like it.

Doesn’t he need a seasoned pro? “No,” Crist said Thursday. “You know what you need? I’ve learned this in the last month: Somebody who’s loyal – really – honest, that cares about you, and is smart and tough. My older sister Margaret has always been that.”

Ironically, the GOP learned the same lesson … from Crist.  They don’t need a seasoned pro, or in Crist’s case, an overseasoned one, either.  They need someone who is loyal, honest, and cares about the conservative principles he espouses — like Marco Rubio — instead of someone who dumps those principles in order to save his political hide.   It’s also rather telling that Crist can’t even get his sister to commit to his campaign for the long term.