Friday, June 20, 2008

Crist Bombs on the Coast

Governor Charlie Crist is taking his act on the road… and landing with a thud. He showed up at a Republican fund-raiser in Orange County, California, the homeland of smug conservative Republicans, and bombed. Here’s how Frank Mickadeit of the Orange County Register put it:

Crist. Oy. Brought in as the keynote speaker because he’s on the short list of potential McCain running mates, his performance Friday night truly did help his party. By showing unequivocally he would be a complete disaster for the GOP – the worst running mate since Dan Quayle.

Mr. Crist looks great: – silver hair, ragged shirt, baggy pa— … wait, that’s Mr. Bojangles; let’s try again: silver hair, warm smile, great tan, perfectly tailored suit of clothes, decent teeth. It’s when he uses his facial musculature to try and form cogent sound that he falls apart.

His speech began at 7:38 p.m. and was over at 7:47 p.m. – at nine minutes the shortest Flag Day Dinner speech on record. A couple of years ago, there was a post-dessert standup comic who took longer to spit out one joke. So that was the good part about Crist’s speech. Brevity is not always the soul of wit. Sometimes it’s just merciful.

But into that nine minutes, he packed two major gaffes and one cliché-ridden anecdote, a nice trifecta. First, he displayed his knowledge of history by informing us that Ronald Reagan “came from right here in Orange County, California.” (Sorry, Charlie, that was that other Republican president. Orange County was simply where Reagan’s ATM was located.)

Then, again seeking to, uh, connect, with the O.C. Republican establishment, he managed to invoke one of the most reviled names in Orange County: “Your governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is doing a great job! … I love him!”

Thud. The groans in the room were audible … audible!!! Obviously, Crist’s advance team had failed to tell him that conservatives see Arnold as a vapid, poll-driven sellout who faked ’em out good.

Crist closed with an anecdote about the American Dream, about “a boy named Adam” who came to the U.S. without knowing English, who worked hard shining shoes, had seven kids … At which point, I wrote in my notebook: “It was his dad.” Close. A minute of porridgy drama later, we find out Adam was his grandfather.

OK, here’s an easy one, Charlie: How do you spell potato?

The headline of the article is “We know who McCain shouldn’t pick.” Ouch.

(HT to John in Key West.)