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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

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January 18, 2006

Ideological samplers

For some reason, Hillary Clinton's "plantation" comment on MLK Day has pundits talking again about her ideological soul, or lack thereof. Michael Goodwin in the NY Daily News:

All this zigzagging from left to right and back again on abortion, health care and national defense is supposed to make her look like a centrist.

It's just making her look confused.

At worse, it suggests she's having trouble figuring out who she is. And if she doesn't know who she is, how are the rest of us supposed to?

Sound familiar? Almost exactly what many Democrats and their pundit allies have been saying about Schwarzenegger here. In both cases, the problem isn't so much with the politician as it is with the pundits. Any politician who doesn't share every core value with his or her political party is accused of not having core values, or not knowing who they really are. But why is that the case? Why can't a politician have 7 positions that are in line with the Democrats and 3 that are more in sync with Republicans, or the other way around?

Clinton is (generally) for big government (Dems) but also for the war in Iraq (Republican). There is nothing inherently confusing about that. Schwarzenegger is for gay rights (Dem) and against raising taxes (Republican). Is there anything about these two stands that says they can't go together?

Why is it that these pols and the few others like them are the ones who take so much heat, when supposedly, the public (and the press) wants more leaders who are problem solvers, not partisans?

It's one thing to waffle, straddle or flip-flop, and both Clinton and Schwarzenegger have done some of that at times. But that is not the same thing as being an ideological sampler, picking and choosing positions from across the partisan spectrum. The critics would do well to note the difference.

 
 

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