Charlie Crist: On second thought, let's ban offshore drilling

You know what would be fun? A Charlie Crist vs. Arlen Specter campaign. No principles, no shame about abandoning prior positions, just pure, sweet, ruthlessly self-interested calculation from beginning to end. It’d be like watching a switch hitter face an ambidextrous pitcher.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signaled Tuesday he’s close to calling a special legislative session to take up a constitutional amendment banning near-shore drilling, likely placing the issue at the forefront of state campaigns over the next month…

Appearing on Fox & Friends in July of 2008 on behalf of the McCain presidential campaign, Crist said he was open to offshore drilling “because gas if four dollars a gallon.

“If we’re going to be venturing into this water so to speak, I certainly would rather have the United States doing it than anybody else,” Crist said at the time.

He continued that it’s important for the drilling be “far enough, clean enough and safe enough so that we don’t hurt our beautiful beaches and tourism.”

Everyone understands the strategy here, right? I don’t mean his energy strategy — that’s a policy issue and therefore means nothing to him — but rather his political strategy. Pounding the table about the spill lets him show “leadership” and, more importantly, buys him lots of free camera time, which is important right now as he tries to strangle Meek’s candidacy in its crib. Crist needs to pull as many Democrats as he can as quickly as he can on the theory that if Meek can’t get traction, the White House will lean on him to drop out and endorse Crist in order to unite the left against Rubio. Granted, there’s still near-majority support for drilling in Florida, but it’s down sharply since 2008 and, in any case, Crist doesn’t need to think about the overall electorate yet. He needs to think about Democrats, among whom the drop in support is sure to be much sharper. Hence today’s self-interested flip-flop, with many more to come.

The beauty of Sestak’s surge in Pennsylvania is not only that it could finish off Benedict Arlen but that it’ll encourage Meek not to lose hope even if he lags behind Crist for awhile. Stay strong, Kendrick!