I am sitting with the editorial board, watching Charlie Crist deliver the perfect sales pitch in these turbulent political times.
We have intransigence from the right and intransigence from the left. We have two warring factions in their concrete bunkers, firing away with little regard to the collateral damage inflicted on the nation.
And then out of one of the bunkers walks Charlie, the voice of reason, imploring both sides to disarm and meet in the middle.
He did succeed in getting the Democrats and Republicans to stop shooting at each other in the U.S. Senate race — both redirected their fire at him. The problem with waving white flags is that when they don't work, they don't block live ammo.
My instinct is to stand with him because Charlie is a bastion of civility in the increasingly uncivil world of politics.
"I caught grief for being decent to the new president of the United States,'' he says about his famous on-stage embrace of Barack Obama. "Doesn't that tell you something about my former party?''
And his basic message makes sense.
The Democrats have some good ideas. The Republicans have some good ideas.
Both have plenty of bad ideas.
And reasonable people like Charlie can sort them out.
"They're not all right,'' he says about the parties. "They're not all wrong.''
Charlie is dishing out Baby Bear's porridge.
It all sounds so good until the editorial board presses him for details.
Take, for example, his position on ObamaCare? He is for the provision that requires insurance companies to take people with pre-existing conditions. He is for the provision that covers the "doughnut hole'' in Medicare drug coverage.
But he opposes eliminating Medicare Advantage, which adds 14 percent to the cost of a typical Medicare plan. He opposes any tax increases. He opposes the provision that makes health insurance mandatory.
In other words, Charlie is for everything that will cost a lot more money and against everything that will pay for it.
His position would encourage healthy people to shun coverage until they came down with a disease like cancer, and then go get insurance because they couldn't be turned down. When pressed on this, Charlie doesn't have an answer, so he simply waves his magic wand and says the insurance companies can afford it.
No, they can't.
To shore up Social Security, Charlie would legalize illegal workers and subject them to payroll taxes. In fact, many illegal workers already are subjected to payroll taxes. Back in 2005, The New York Times reported they provided a $7 billion subsidy to Social Security.
They pay into the program but don't take out of it. Allowing them to take out of it certainly won't make the fund more solvent.
As for his position on NASA, Charlie is for more shuttle flights, more commercial launches, more manned spaceflight after the shuttle and possibly the Constellation program.
In other words, he is for everything.
He would encourage banks to rewrite home loans, encourage green companies to produce more green energy and encourage Congress to pump more money into the Everglades.
Encouragement and $28 will get you two hours of parking in Washington.
Charlie says he is for tax cuts, yet everything he espouses involves more spending.
Charlie says he doesn't have to caucus with Democrats or Republicans, that he doesn't need committee assignments to be effective. Yes, he does.
After a sudden inner revelation on gay adoption, Charlie says he may end the state's lawsuit blocking a gay man from adopting two children that the man rescued from a crack mom. But Charlie didn't check with gay-rights advocates, who want to use the lawsuit to overturn the gay-adoption ban.
I would like to vote for Charlie because I think the two political parties are close to putting this country into a death spiral, and we need alternatives.
But what Charlie gives us is pandering from the right and pandering from the left.
Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or email@example.com.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun