Hot potato.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Aug. 31 2007 5:57 PM

Hot Potato

Republicans can't drop Larry Craig fast enough.

80_thehasbeen
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At the end of his piece, Scully perfectly captures that sense of honor among scribes:

"That's where presidential speechwriters belong—off to the side . . . . Speechwriting is a job with many privileges, but also its own rules, temptations, and demands of conscience, obvious and nonnegotiable. The work has rewards enough without each speechwriter stepping forward to give his or her name its own permanent shine in history."

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In retrospect, Scully's passionate advocacy of animal rights should come as no surprise. Trapped in cramped quarters, rarely allowed to see the light of day, speechwriters face the same miserable conditions as pigs and calves that spend their lives in crates, only to be sold as bacon and veal.

As Scully suggests, it's wrong to fawn over glory hounds who violate the speechwriter's code of honor. The whole point of the job is that in the end, the words are all that matter. ... 1:50 P.M.  ( link)

Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007

Very Well, Then: Slowly but surely, Mitt Romney is winning the Republican nomination. He is virtually unopposed in next Saturday's Iowa straw poll. In futures markets and national polls, he still runs third or fourth. But in both Iowa and New Hampshire, where the race is usually decided, Romney is seven points ahead.

The other leading candidates all have good reasons why they should be beating Romney. John McCain is a more authentic conservative; Rudy Giuliani's résumé starts with 9/11, not the Salt Lake City Olympics; Fred Thompson is famously down-to-earth, not a cyborg from another planet. Yet so far, the phony, mediocre, paranormal candidate is winning.

The other Republicans may be hard-pressed to stop Romney, but Romney can. To clinch the nomination, Romney still has to persuade Republican primary voters to forgive him for switching sides on most issues they care about.

On the campaign trail, Romney is followed by a man in a dolphin costume, carrying a sign that says, "Ask Flip Anything." As his opponents keep pointing out, Romney's ideological evolution on abortion, guns, and gay rights isn't pretty. His clumsy attempts to explain himself have usually backfired, as when he tried to overcome conservative qualms about his support for the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban by claiming to be a lifelong hunter and lifetime member of the NRA.

Romney's abortion answer is particularly unconvincing. He says he has always been "personally pro-life" but was "effectively pro-choice" until halfway through his governorship, when he decided he was wrong and "needed to be pro-life."

That explanation is far too Flip for most conservatives. So, Romney seems to be trying out a new flip-flop strategy: Instead of parsing his contradictions, he embraces them.