David Brody puts a finger in the wind. Lots of reasons are given, Crist’s squishiness on abortion (and, related, Schiavo) foremost among them, but I confess that I came away from the piece with the same impression as Marc Ambinder about the real dealbreaker lurking in the shadows here. Part of me wonders if that’s just me reading my own stereotypes of social conservatives onto the sample Brody surveyed, but some of the language is sufficiently loaded — hinting that Crist’s “not one of us,” wondering why McCain hasn’t said much about the California gay marriage ruling — that I don’t think I am. Besides, Romney’s been squishy on abortion too and plenty of social cons (although certainly not all) are fine with him.
Whatever the truth is about Crist, while I’m happy to take him at his word and frankly wouldn’t care either way, plenty of people won’t be and some will consider it grounds to stay home. It is, after all, unthinkable for an openly gay pol to be on the GOP ticket — or on the Democratic ticket, for that matter. Then again, what exactly are his qualifications to be on the ticket in the first place? He’s been governor for three years and a state AG for four before that, plus ten years in the state legislature. He’s roughly as experienced as, ahem, Barack Obama. If not for the fact that he’s from a key swing state, no one would pay him attention, and thanks to McCain’s support among Latinos we may not even need any extra help in Florida this year. Like I said the other day in a different context, if you’re going to play chicken with evangelicals by putting a pro-choicer on the ticket, why not make a run at Pennsylvania by naming Ridge?