Partisan Politics 101: A Primer
An open question...
How did conservatives LOATHE John Kerry and paint him as a flip-flopper, constantly shifting in the wind and changing positions...
and think that Mitt Romney was the lone true conservative in the field?
I'm just saying, if Kerry changed positions, it was on one major - critical - issue, the war in Iraq. Not much else did he ever do much except perhaps some subtle changes.
But the Mittster? Went from pro-choice to pro-life. From being on the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights to demanding that they never get close to the civil rights his home state accorded gay couples. He went, therefore, from being a moderate Republican to, suddenly, a hard-right Republican.
That's a LOT bigger shift in poolicy and "beliefs" than Kerry ever even sniffed.
So how do conservatives reconcile this? Easy - they don't. Just as I never cared much about Kerry's shifts because I knew at the end of the day, he was a way better candidate than GWB.
Do Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter all really believe Mitt Romney means what he said when he ran for President? Well, who knows what any of them believe - I tend to think of them more as vaudevillians than as actual political pundits. But I think at the end of the day, they just want to HEAR people saying the "right" things. That's all it takes to pass the litmus test.
Holding the party's water is all that matters to some - otherwise, John McCain, a hardcore conservative in 90% of the issues, would be a godsend to them because of his independent appeal. But because he won't walk in lockstep with them, he's a "liberal." (Note the Fox News graphic on McCain...wow. In case you don't click on it, they label him as a Democrat, their ultimate "insult.")
Naturally, the same thing happens on the left. I hear people berating Barack Obama because his healthcare plan (which differs only slightly from HRC's) isn't left enough. And I've certainly castigated Clinton for her obvious politically tinged votes on flag-burning and video game violence (two fake issues if ever there were ones) - and I can't honestly say that they don't shape in some way how I'd think about her were she the candidate.
All of this is fun, and all of this is amusing in the sense that people want their candidates to walk in lockstep with them. But...are conservatives really going to stay at home and not vote for McCain? I'd love to think that's the case, but I doubt it. It's all talk, but in the end, we all have to vote for someone we're not crazy about 90% of the time.
The fact that I don't feel like I'm giving anything up by voting for Barack Obama is why I'm such a huge fan of his - he's the first person I've been genuinely excited about in years, perhaps even more than Bill Clinton in his first run for President. Whether the last statement is just another example of me repeating the framework I've just described remains to be seen.