Saturday, May 21, 2011

GOP Flip-Flop Olympics

Jill Lawrence notes the policy flips of most of the 2012 GOP candidates in The Daily Beast.

All of the plausible Republican hopefuls have major flips on their resumes. Like Romney, most of them have jettisoned inconveniently moderate parts of their pasts as they prepare to face a very conservative primary electorate. Gingrich is in a different category—on pace to set a record for the most and fastest reversals by a White House contestant, with little discernible pattern or strategy.

Earlier this year, for instance, Gingrich berated President Obama for not intervening in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi. Then when Obama established a no-fly zone, Gingrich said he would not have intervened. The former speaker is currently in the throes of trying to explain why he described conservative Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan in terms lifted straight from a liberal playbook: “radical change” and “right-wing social engineering.” It was actually the second phase of what is so far a triple flip: from telling Time magazine he would have voted for Ryan’s plan, to criticizing it harshly on NBC’s Meet the Press, to asserting there is little daylight between him and Ryan and any ad quoting what he said on Meet the Press would be false.

This is another consequence of the party allowing its extremists to take over. As Richard Nixon noted, it has long been common practice for GOP candidates to tack right to win the nomination and then move back toward the center in the general election. Current candidates have to move so far to the right to win the primaries that they make themselves unelectable to the 20% in the middle that determine most modern Presidential elections.

--Ballard Burgher

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