There is a long and grotesque tradition in American politics of candidates who recognize the barbarity of abortion early in their political lives, then sell out defenseless babies the minute their career advancement requires it. The latest such opportunist is Florida’s former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, now a Democrat candidate for the same office.
Recently, Crist insisted to WPTV’s Michael Williams that he’s never, ever, ever been one of those gross anti-choicers:
I am pro-life by my definition. And what I mean by that is I’m for life. I think most of us are for life. And I think that’s very important to state because even though I am pro-life, which I mean for life, doesn’t mean that I want to tell a woman what to do with her body. And I never have.
Except, of course, when he did (sleazy “do with her body” euphemism aside). National Review’s Jim Geraghty reminds us:
There are a lot of Florida Democrats who will probably tell you they care about abortion – er, “abortion rights” or “reproductive rights.” The vast majority of them will, this fall, vote for a man who, during his 2006 race for governor, told a priest in Pensacola that he would sign a bill outlawing abortions except when the mother’s life was at stake. But then he told an AP reporter that he would only sign such a bill if it included exceptions for rape and incest. Also during that race, Charlie Crist attacked his GOP rival for being pro-choice. And as recently as January 2010, “Crist’s Republican U.S. Senate campaign released a statement saying he would ‘fight for pro-life legislative efforts.’”
Usually when somebody’s caught flip-flopping on an issue, he’ll at least try to smooth over discrepancies with some hackneyed explanation of how his perspective has “evolved” (sometimes he’s even gracious enough to provide real-time updates on his “evolving!”). Not Charlie. So pure is his shamelessness that, when pressed by Williamson, Crist straight-up lies about how he has “not changed on this issue”:
“Even as the Republican governor, I vetoed the ultrasound bill on women,” said Crist, referring to a law that would have required women seeking abortions to pay for ultrasounds. “So, I’m the kind of guy being raised with three sisters that understands these are very personal decisions that women ought to be able to make on their own, and certainly not have their government injected into the discussion.”
Williams continued to press the issue, saying, “On the larger issue, in the prior incarnation politically of Charlie Crist, you supported abortion restrictions. But you have changed the nuance for your view there.”
“No, I haven’t. That’s not true,” Crist shot back. “I’m gonna go back to when I was a young state senator. This was 1993 in the spring, and I was on a healthcare committee.
“First vote I have on the healthcare committee in the state Senate representing Tampa Bay was dealing with a 24-hour waiting period for a woman before she could decide to have an abortion. I read the bill and I’m thinking, ‘What’s this about?’ This is a very difficult personal decision for any woman to make, and we’re gonna put a delay on it to make her wait? So, I vote no.
‘What happens as a result of that? There were three no votes, three yes votes, the bill died in the committee because I as a young Republican in the 1990s voted against it.’”
But having held the same position then as he does now hardly settles what he pretended to believe in between. For instance, this 2006 piece from the Tampa Bay Times shows Crist claiming in 1995 that he opposed the waiting period law because “I generally don’t like government telling people what to do” and endorsing in 1998 “the right to choose” the “very personal decision” to abort one’s child, only to reverse himself in 2006 and declare, “I’m pro-life. I don’t know how else to say it.”
Of course, even then he was a pretty pitiful excuse for a “pro-lifer” – the kind who still wanted Roe v. Wade upheld and still opposed the 24-hour waiting period.
Lots of politicians flip-flop, but it’s rarer to see politicians who come as close to literalizing the term as Charlie Crist does, slipping into and out of the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels whenever convenient, as casually as one would do with the actual footwear. However, given the vehemence of his latest denials that he was ever really concerned about fetal rights, it’s just as well that he stay where he is – the fate of the unborn is clearly unimportant to him, it’s inconceivable pro-lifers would fall for yet another reversal, and by now pro-aborts are well-versed in welcoming sellouts into their ranks.