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Only Soulless Hacks Get Elected President

By Taylor Marvin

Jonathan Chait has a good catch flagging a Miami Herald interview where Tim Pawlenty massively walks away from his previous acceptance of climate change. Chait is not impressed:

“He is such a soulless hack. But this is the state of the Republican Party now. No doubt Pawlenty tells himself he must pretend not to believe in climate science or else the nomination may go to somebody who genuinely disbelieves climate science.”

This isn’t the state of the Republican Party, it’s a necessary result of primary elections in a partisan political environment. Candidates have to position themselves so they appeal to partisan primary voters, and then make themselves acceptable in the general election. Serving these two masters requires some degree of lying — there’s no way around it. This dynamic is stronger in the Republican Party because of the Republicans’ more ideologically unified and better organized primary base, but it is still present in Democratic elections as well: I doubt most informed observers actually believed Barack Obama’s harsh stance on free trade in the run-up to the 2008 Democratic Primary. I doubt that Pawlenty and Romney, both governors from moderate states with fairly progressive records, actually believe climate change isn’t happening, or that Romney is actually convinced of the necessity of appointing “a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.” But this kind of posturing is a necessity of the system and being elected president requires some degree of soulless hackery. Separating out the hacks from the candidates who actually believe in extremist positions is the problem.

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