Commentary: Charlie Crist facing big challenges

Gov. Charlie Crist's bid to become the next U.S. senator from Florida — and make history as an independent — has liberated the long-time Republican from following a party script.

But in so doing, Gov. Crist has left many voters confused and others angry. They're right to wonder what being an independent means, if all his positions seem to follow popular opinion. Voters aren't selecting a pollster. They are looking for a leader -- ideally, one who won't just parrot the mob.

It's one thing to be a thoughtful moderate who weighs issues based on the public good and realistic economic conditions. It's quite another to jump from one position to the exact opposite, sometimes in a matter of hours on the same day.

Example: The governor's position on healthcare reform. On Friday, he said in a TV interview he would have voted for the legislation had he been in the U.S. Senate -- only to retract his support two hours later.

He then said the healthcare fix was "too big, too expensive and expanded the role of government far too much. . . . I would have voted against the bill because of unacceptable provisions like the cuts to the Medicare Advantage program."

Last March, when he was still a Republican facing conservative Marco Rubio, Gov. Crist sided with those conservatives who want to repeal the health care bill. In July, when he became an independent, he told The Wall Street Journal he didn't support a repeal.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.miamiherald.com.