It's Political Spot-Changing Season!
When the White House switches teams, the reaction by opportunists and short-term thinkers can be unintentionally hilarious
December is always a fun month after party-changing presidential elections. Take a cross-section from the political commentary of December 2008, 2000, 1992, 1980, 1976, 1968, 1960 on backward, and you are certain to capture hypocrites, opportunists, self-identified pragmatists, and everyday voters in mid-transformation between yesterday's deeply held conviction and tomorrow's opposite positioning.
As I write in today's L.A. Times, such moments are fine occasions to reflect on the underrated virtues of political ideology, as well as to point and laugh. Excerpt:
Republican public opinion on Vladimir Putin has been jerked like a needle across vinyl. Since July 2016, when Trump was coronated as leader of the GOP, Putin's net favorability among Republicans has increased by a stunning 56 percentage points, according to an Economist/YouGov poll released this month. […]
Remember when Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president"? Democrats claimed that was just about the most egregious example of premeditated obstructionism they'd ever heard — until they found themselves bereft of executive power. According to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): "Past is present, and what goes around comes around." Also, same to you, but more of it.
It really wasn't that long ago, to cite another rapidly changing value, that liberals thought bigotry lurked behind state-government opposition to federal mandates. As a February 2016 Vox headline informed us, the term "states' rights" is part of the "sneaky language today's politicians use to get away with racism and sexism." Yet that same website this month exulted that: "We're about to see states' rights used defensively against Trump."
I discussed political shapeshifting season, among many other topics, on this week's episode of The Fifth Column podcast, which you can listen to here: