This is an interesting post by Patrick Ruffini:
Look, we get it. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and even Fred Thompson aren’t perfect. But if asked to choose between Romney/Thompson/Giuliani, who may have changed on some issues and McCain, who is “authentic,” my answer is always going to be any ofthese guys over McCain.
And it says something funny about the McCain campaign that the best attack line they can come up with is that their opponents once agreed with them. Attacking Fred Thompson as McCain Lite only works if people find the high-test McCain appealing.
Sure,all of them took McCainiac positions at some point or another. On some issues, they followed and McCain led. But that’s the problem isn’t it? McCain led. He led on BCRA. He led on CIR. He led the fight against the Bush tax cuts. He led the Republicans for the Kyoto treaty. All of Romney’s flip-flops don’t change the fact that McCain is responsible for the abomination that is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.Whenever McCain leads, it’s usually in the wrong direction. That’s why conservatives don’t trust him.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye if someone’s flip-flopping in my direction, but that’s not it. Rather, it’s that at some point, you’ve gotta dance with the ones that brung ya. Said another way, the positions Romney et al. are taking now, in the most important campaign of their lives, are the ones they’re stuck with — whether they like it or not.After his public conversion and being pilloried as a flip-flopper, do you seriously think that Romney can walk back his pro-life positionwithout destroying himself? Does anyone actually think that Romney would be so stupid as to advance public funding of elections after running as the enemy of BCRA? If Romney runs and manages to get elected as a conservative, why would he revert to a non-winning position?
If you look at history, how candidates run — regardless of what they believed earlier in their career — is how they govern once they win. Conservatives may feel betrayed by George W. Bush but his campaigns were stellar examples of truth-in-advertising. Remember, he got elected as a different kind of Republican who was pro-immigrant and who was more concerned about taxes than spending. How Bush governed is exactly how he ran, except maybe for the nation-building thing (and there was a pretty big change in circumstances there.)
Slippery as he was, Clinton ran as a Third Way Democrat and governed that way.Bush the Father was the mixed bag we expected him to be. Once he became pro-life, he stayed pro-life. But no one expected him to be Ronald Reagan (“kinder, gentler nation”) and he wasn’t. And what you saw was what you got in Ronaldus Maximus.
Isn’t this different than the campaign we ran against John Kerry in 2004? Well, yes, I suppose it is. But the frame against Kerry was that he was too unsteady and indecisive to win a war.Can McCain credibly make that case against the others? That Rudy Giuliani will wilt against al Qaeda because he moved on CFR? Please.