Wednesday, October 26, 2011


There's a lot of flip-flopping going on out there: Mitt Romney once said he supported Iowa Ohio governor John Kasich's union-busting law, then failed to endorse the law in a campaign appearance at a phone bank where Republicans were making calls hoping to save it from being overturned in a referendum, but now says he's "110 percent" behind it. Rick Perry goes birther-curious in a couple of interview but now says, "I have no doubt" that Barack Obama is an American citizen. Herman Cain gives a fuzzy answer on abortion, then says he's unswervingly anti-abortion, and now does both at the same time:

I am pro-life from conception. Abortions, no exceptions. That has been my official stand from the beginning. What Piers Morgan was trying to do was to pigeonhole me on, "Well, what if this was your granddaughter?" You know what? If it's my granddaughter? Yes, this is my official position, and it's always been that. If it's my granddaughter? I used the word "choice." And that's where they jumped all over it. A family will make that choice. I was not talking about the whole big issue.

The Romney flip-flop seems like a problem for him only because it suggests that he's likely to make more such mistakes in the future. I can't really believe anyone (read: Perry) is going to be able to make much of this particular flip-flop. Yes, the wingnut population rallied around Scott Walker in Wisconsin -- but similar efforts in Ohio have gotten less public attention. Rank-and-file wingnuts are very much in favor of busting public-sector unions, but the Ohio bill simply isn't a national hot-button issue on the right. And now Romney is (finally, and I presume permanently) on the conservatively correct side of the issue. So that's settled, months before any primary or caucus votes are cast. The flip-flop may show up as part of a laundry list in a "Can we trust Romney?" negative ad, but it won't stand out. Minor damage done, at worst.

Perry, I think, has also put the birther issue to rest -- he's daring everyone to prove he was serious, and we can all parse his words forever, but he's moving on -- again, months before anyone votes.

Cain? He's the most vulnerable, because he's flopped back into conservatively-incorrect territory by suggesting he's antichoice except for his own family. So I expect one final flop, in which he says he'd say within his family that life begins at conception and abortion is very, very wrong. And that will be that.

He really might be vulnerable if there were someone in the race who really had the voters' trust and had it especially on this particular issue. Imagine if he were running against pre-disgrace Sarah Palin, she of the not-aborted Down's syndrome baby. But the holier-than-thou competition consists of Rick Santorum, whom nobodylikes, and Michele Bachmann, whom nobody likes anymore.

So these are all non-issues, I think, The critical stuff is to come.