Ross Douthat takes on E.J. Dionne's column on the Florida Republican Senate primary in a blog post at the NY Times, and assails Dionne for praising a "'nonpartisan, non-ideological' Charlie Crist, with his 'sunny' attitude and his 'buoyant moderation.'" Douthat does this because Dionne is criticizing the Tea Partiers for being hyper-partisan and Douthat doesn't want to acknowledge that he's, well, one of them in a lot of respects.

Douthat claims that Dionne fails to acknowledge any of Crist's failures as governor, and suggests that this is the real reason why Tea Partiers have deserted the once-popular governor, as opposed to the rabid know-nothingness that they display fairly regularly.

Notably absent is any defense of Crist’s actual record as governor, which has been “moderate” in the worst sense of the word: Fiscally irresponsible on taxes and spending alike, and eager to use bailout dollars to delay the hard choices that Crist’s own profligacy created.
Douthat conveniently overlooks one major problem with his own argument here. Crist doesn't set the budget alone. The Florida legislature has a prominent hand in it, and who's been serving in a prominent position in the legislature of late? Oh yeah--Marco Rubio, who was Speaker of the Florida House. What--he gets credit for being fiscally responsible? Marco of the sketchy spending of party and state funds? And Rubio's not alone--the Florida legislature has been in the hands of conservative Republicans for quite some time now, with many of the spending policies that Douthat calls profligate instituted under the governorship of Jeb! Bush, whose conservative credentials never seem to be called into question.

In fact, the closer you look at Florida's fiscal wreckage, the more it becomes clear that it's hard-right conservatives who ought to be getting kicked in the teeth, not moderates, and especially not liberals. They've been in charge while the economy down here went careening off into the ditch, and if it hadn't been for Crist's embrace of the stimulus package, we'd have slid down even further. Funny how that never occurs to Douthat, isn't it?

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