On Thursday, Charlie Crist needed to deliver the Speech of His Life when announced he was dropping out of the GOP primary to run with No Party Affiliation.
The entire political world was watching. TV trucks were backed up along Beach Drive. CNN’s Candy Crowley was ready to go live to The Situation Room. Chris Matthews wanted to lead off Hardball with a shot from St. Pete.
But when five o’clock struck, the Governor was nowhere to be found. Michelle Todd, in danger of becoming the Ron Ziegler of Charlie Crist’s Independent Campaign, said that the Crist would be a half-hour late (which, of course, turned out to be 45 minutes late).
45 minutes late to deliver a speech four minutes long at an event Politico described, charitably I might add, as “haphazard” to a crowd holding up signs for among other issues USF-St. Pete, clean energy and against off-shore drilling and the truth about 9/11
Crist was introduced by Watson Haynes, a local leader in the African-American community, whose resume is almost entirely based on being the “black guy in the picture behind Charlie Crist.” Haynes, who that day had switched his party registration to Democrat, played his part to perfection, inducing the all-white crowd to go along with a sophomoric chant that only served to remind me of how white and out-of-rhythm the crowd was.
Then Charlie Crist stepped up to the plate, his Real Housewife of Tallahassee next to him, and…he…whiffed. Not swing-for-the-fences-and-struck-out whiffed, rather a deflating, mystifying whiff of an announcement speech in which he led off with some awkward reference to prayer, moved onto a flip-flop about offshore drilling that would make John Kerry turn his head and a complete lack of context, inspiration or reason for why the hell he was about to do what he’s doing.
To say that Crist’s announcement speech was vapid or vacuous is to do a disservice to words that begin with the letter ‘v’.
Again, 45 minutes late to deliver such a whisper of a speech? 45 minutes for what?
Turns out, the Governor was boating. That’s right, the entire political world is waiting with baited breath for Crist’s announcement speech — all the while the Florida Capitol was imploding like an Icelandic volcano — and this guy goes out for a pleasure cruise.
Before his big decision, Crist went to lunch at Fish Tales in St. Petersburg with his sister Elizabeth. He said he continued to listen to what people had to say. Then went out on the 25-foot Trophy sport fishing boat he calls Freedom. “I just finally came to the conclusion that what I felt in my heart I had to do. I didn’t have a choice.”
When I read that, I almost lost my shit. First of all, Fish Tales is a horrible restaurant. I don’t even know if they use refrigerators to store their food, which is to cuisine what Crist is to oratory: just a pile of crap.
Still, Charlie only weighs 89 pounds so maybe eating at Fish Tales is what keeps him thin. I eat at Bella Brava all the time and I’m the size of a retired full-back. So I’ll let Crist go on his decision to eat at Fish Tales before making the Speech of His Life.
But to go out on a pleasure cruise of Tampa Bay, keeping everyone in Straub Park waiting for you to eventually deliver that airball of a speech…wow, just wow. The frekin’ nerve.
Then again, this is from the same Governor who took ten weeks of vacation last year while the state endured its worst fiscal crisis in a generation.