Government leaders, like ship captains navigating wicked storms, don't abandon their posts when challenges appear overwhelming. They don't, like Ms. Palin, duck out because the opposing party got in some good punches, knocking out her choice for attorney general and threatening to override her veto of nearly $29 million in federal stimulus funds. They don't let their critics distract or consume them, which she said was happening to her routinely in Juneau.
They don't set a lovely table - as Mr. Crist enjoys doing as governor - only to neglect seeing that the meal gets properly cooked and served. They don't say they'll champion kids' health care and education, preserve the environment and protect homeowners from predatory insurance practices but then run for cover as the problems involving them intensify. They don't take billions in stimulus cash from Washington but fail to strengthen the state budget's foundation so that it can withstand future economic slides. They don't add to the mess, allowing raids on state trust funds, and pretending that expanded gambling will solve the state's education mess. Leaders don't. But Mr. Crist did.
There's still time for him as governor to repair the damage to the growth-management laws he helped weaken. Still time to wrest more efficiencies from state agencies. Still time to make positive, long-lasting changes that can strengthen his legacy and the state he still runs. We encourage him to do so.
But we understand that with Mr. Crist, he's always looking to the next job. He's given up each of his statewide posts - education commissioner, attorney general and now, governor - after just one term to seek higher office.
That's Bunyan-sized ambition. But unfortunately it's also the mark of a quitter, one who's concerned that chronic problems he might not be able to solve could tarnish his smaller achievements.
And, as a consequence, block his path to the top.
Shouldn't we expect better from our leaders?