Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson has watched the Charlie Crist did-I-endorse-Porkulus-or-not with a bit of amusement and perhaps dismay. Dickinson interviewed Crist this spring for his rather unsurprisingly hostile look at conservatives within the Republican Party, hyperbolically titled “The GOP Jihad.” At the time, Dickinson wrote favorably of Crist:
Another GOP governor facing excommunication is Charlie Crist of Florida. By all reasonable standards, Crist is a right-of-center Republican who has established crossover appeal by taking a conservationist approach to global warming and the Everglades. But to GOP hard-liners, Crist is nothing but a warmed-over Democrat, a turncoat who appeared with Obama in support of the stimulus package. The governor was recently pilloried by GOP operatives — with obvious sexual innuendo — as “batting for the other team.” Even Jeb Bush’s son, George P., got into the act, giving Crist the hip-hop handle “D-Light.”
Many Republican strategists see such tactics as self-defeating. “You get guys like Crist who are tremendously popular, and they try to drum him out,” says Davis, the former NRCC chair. For his part, Crist is weighing a run for the Senate — where, he tells Rolling Stone, he would have given the president a fourth Republican vote on the stimulus bill. The GOP, he adds, must come up with something to say other than No.
“Don’t misunderstand me,” he says. “Sometimes ‘no’ is the right answer. But you have to have a vision for the future. You have to talk about what it is you want to do rather than knocking the other guy all the time.”
Dickinson posted the transcript of that question and answer yesterday at Rolling Stone:
Rolling Stone: Just a final question: Had you been in the Senate, would you have voted with the other Republicans for the stimulus package?
Why did Dickinson decide to post this? He objected to Crist’s “going wobbly” on Porkulus, but it goes beyond wobbliness. Crist attempted to tell CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he never endorsed it at all:
“I didn’t endorse it, I didn’t even have a vote on the darn thing.”
That’s not wobbliness, it’s a flat-out lie, as Dickinson’s transcript makes clear. Crist was busy helping Obama promote the bill in Florida, after all, while it was still politically popular. Its failure has made it toxic to Crist, but rather than admit that he was wrong for backing it, he’d rather try to rewrite history instead. Dickinson just reminds us that Crist’s support for this was not nebulous at all, but absolute.