Things to come, Part 2

Read Matthew Yglesias' piece in the Prospect online on why gay marriage isn't a 'problem' politically just for Democrats.

I think this speaks to what is essentially an unknown factor in the 2004 campaign. G2's 2000 campaign was so successful (although not decisive, let us remember) because he skillfully coopted the language and issues of liberals through his compassionate conservatism gimmick. And I think a lot of liberals became quickly resigned to the Florida debacle since based on his campaign they thought his presidency would be pretty middle of the road--maybe a few more pills to swallow, and definitely kind of embarrassing, but basically the conservative side of the terrain we got used to under Clinton.

Now of course this was all revealed to be a sham in rather spectacular fashion, as Bush's presidency has turned the country into a political bizzaro-world that many people are still hoping they will wake up from. But that's just the thing: whatever one thinks about Bush, its common knowledge that his administration is synonymous with a new conservative vanguard. And that opens up the possibility of alienating the moderate voters, just as surely as liberal extremism might.

The Republicans in 2000 very effectively kept their extremist side out of sight, just long enough for people to forget that today's party is dangerously beholden to a faction of well-organized zealots. But the Bush administration has been working hard for their interests for four years now, and they may not feel like staying in the back of the tent this time around, especially with a cardinal issue on the table.


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