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October 23rd, 2009 1:43 pm
A Tree Grows in Daytona Beach
Posted by Print

One of the eternal irritations about mainstream media coverage of conservatives is how often unabashedly liberal journalists are tasked to write “objective” pieces about the political dynamics within the GOP. The results tend to be about as unpredictable as a Horatio Alger story.

The narrative usually goes something like this: Ideological zealots (read: conservatives), abandoning all pretense of pragmatism (apparently it isn’t practical to have principles) are threatening to drive the party of a cliff. Yet one enlightened moderate, free of all that ideological ballast, holds the potential to lead the party boldly into the future if only the flat-earthers would get out of his way.  The moderate is sensible, temperate, and judicious.  The conservative is either mentally unhinged or has sold his soul to Karl Rove.

That’s basically the tact that Time’s Joe Klein (whose consistent ability to be wrong in print deserves a Pulitzer) takes in his profile of the GOP primary contest for the open U.S. Senate seat in Florida.  Klein portrays Florida’s moderate governor, Charlie Crist, as a good-natured centrist being driven to the wall by wild-eyed right-wing activists.  Meanwhile, conservative former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio is shot down on the grounds that (a) the Florida GOP chairman doesn’t like purists (since all of us recognize the unalloyed majesty and power of state chairmen) and (b) Jeb Bush’s decision to create public hurricane insurance half a decade ago proves that limited government won’t work in the Sunshine State.

Of all the candidates aiming to leap onto the national stage in gubernatorial or senate races next year, Rubio is far and away the most impressive addition to the conservative movement.  An enterprising conservative or moderate journalist (or even an intellectually honest liberal) would have seen that the real story here is how a relatively unknown, underfunded conservative has started destroying the lead of a popular moderate govenor in one of the nation’s largest states. That’s not the story that Joe Klein wrote. Unfortunately, it’s probably not one he’s capable of writing.

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