And health care, as Klein notes with some glee, is not the only major issue on which both Romney and Gingrich have, um, reconsidered their positions. Both have in the past supported limits on carbon emissions to combat global climate change — another idea that the GOP right wing finds an anathema. Gingrich even appeared in an ad for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, in which he agreed with ultraliberal former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that “our country must take action to address climate change.”
Which brings us back to the absurdity of this year’s Republican campaign. The positions that Romney and Gingrich are now fleeing from are sensible, mainstream ideas that have broad support among voters. They are evidence, as Klein notes, that at some level both men want to actually solve problems and not simply pander to the Neanderthal ideology of the right-wing activists who dominate the Republican nominating process.
In other words, for all their transparent willingness to do whatever it takes to win the nomination, both men actually seem to want to govern. But for a Republican presidential candidate, the willingness to depart from dogma and find real solutions to real problems can be the kiss of death. As former President Bill Clinton quipped recently, the ideological climate in the Republican Party “basically means you can’t be authentic unless you’ve got a single-digit IQ.”
For proof of Clinton’s assertion, seek no further than Cain’s empty-headed campaign. Now that he is on the verge of collapse, we can see even more clearly how ludicrous his quest was in the first place, how stunningly unqualified he was and how narcissistic. His popularity was based on spouting hard-core right-wing dogma and on the sheer simplicity of his silly 9-9-9 plan. It’s frightening to know that a con man like Cain could get so far on a slogan, a shoe shine and a smile.
Jack White keeps an eye on right-wing politics for The Root.