The present governor's race has brought us a number of exercises in ironic typography. On popular forums like Facebook, it's not unusual to find that some have mistyped the name of Charlie Crist as Christ. This is probably most often due to an overzealous autocorrect feature, though it may also be a bit of unconscious mistyping. Still, it's ironic for more than one reason.
The first is that the error actually brings Crist's name back to its roots a step. As a son of Greek immigrants, he came from a family whose original surname was Cristodoulos, which means "slave of Christ". They dropped the -odoulos in the process of acculturation.
Second, it sets up a metaphor in which we might dare to say that Rick Scott is, in fact, properly termed the anti-Crist. No, I don't mean that we should expect Scott to take over the world and begin wearing a 666, though I know some people who think he should. I mean that Scott and Crist represent two dynamically opposed personality types, such that each is the antipode of the other.
The Tampa Bay Times referred to Scott as a politician without a heart. In contrast, you might describe Crist as a guy who is all heart. He loves to talk to people. He likes to do things like make random campaign stops at roadside barbeques. His current "kitchen table" tour is nothing less than what we'd expect of Crist -- while you could never envision Scott descending to eat at the table of any person who didn't also have caviar and champagne on hand.
I'm making this point for a reason, one that has to do with the current Scott campaign ad which makes light of Crist's flip-flops, whether on parties or positions. Many Scott supporters describe Crist in unflattering terms as a turncoat, or as someone who doesn't even know what he stands for, or what party he should belong to. (Let's get the extra ironic hypocrisy out of the way right now: Point out that some of their own heroes -- like Reagan, and yes, even Bondi -- flipped parties and beliefs, and they'll say they weren't turncoats; they just came to their senses. I should also point out for the record, as I did in an earlier post, that many Scott supporters, encouraged by the Scott's campiagn's purposeful lack of precision, mistakenly think "Independent" is a party, and so think Crist changed parties and ideologies twice!)
But I don't think Crist is so much a flip-flopper as he is a person who is easily (maybe too easily at times) moved by the fluttering of his heart. He does have a solid core of belief: Namely, he wants the best for everyone. What has happened to him is that he has decided that Republican beliefs aren't best for everyone after all. But his core hasn't flipped an inch.
A lot is made of the "Obama hug" by Scott fanatics, and it was, I don't doubt (as Crist affirms in his biography), a turning point for Crist. To him, greeting someone with a hug, even someone with whom you were ideologically at odds, was just a normal thing to do. The savage response by his then-fellow Republicans, I can certainly believe got him thinking that maybe the party he was in wasn't such a humane place to be after all.
No one should be shocked by this, nor by Crist's change of heart over such a short period. After all, many of Scott's supporters are fundamentalists who believe in conversions that not only change your spirituality all at once, but by extension, should immediately make you e.g., pro-life and otherwise politically conservative, if you were not already. It shouldn't be hard to accept that Crist also changed his thinking in antipodal ways on some issues, not in the least because (as he is at pains to point out) there were times when, as governor, some thought he wasn't Republican enough. In some cases he didn't have to flip; all he had to do was hop or step, or even stand still.
Scott and his supporters find Crist's changes of heart "flippin' unbelievable," and I can understand why. Tin men are well known for their inflexibility, after all.