David Frum thinks this Weekly Standard piece praising Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk is “strangely apologetic” for acknowleding that the potential Republican senatorial candidate holds some of his constituents’ socially liberal views. Politics almost always involves compromise between what you want and what you can get. Many, if not most, Weekly Standard readers and lots of Republicans, even in blue states, would prefer socially conservative candidates if they could get them. It would be “strangely apologetic” about social conservatism to pretend otherwise.
But this is a pro-Kirk article. Its writer doesn’t conclude, “Yeah, Kirk is great but since he’s pro-choice let’s dump him and nominate Alan Keyes again.” Instead he tries to persuade his socially conservative audience to support Kirk because of his electability, personal appeal, and unique talents. I’m not sure what’s so strange about this approach. Frum proposes this thought experiment: “You’ll know the GOP is on the road to recovery when it is considered a plus that somebody who represents a socially moderate district or state offers socially moderate views.”
So what if Kirk was not “a strong fiscal conservative” whose “record on national security is impeccable”? Would it be a sign that the GOP is on the road to recovery to consider it a plus that somebody who represents an economically moderate, anti-Iraq war state offers economically moderate, anti-Iraq war views? If not, then it would seem some issues are non-negotiable after all.
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