A lot of reporters seem to have gotten it into their heads that you can’t accuse Mitt Romney of both being hard-right and also a flip-flopper. I get the sense that even the Obama campaign has bought into this idea — though it’s less clear to me whether they just don’t think so because reporters have said it can’t work and you shouldn’t do it.
This is silly.
It is at best the over-literalism that afflicts people who make their trade with words, i.e., reporters. On simply logical terms, someone can be hard-right and would govern hard-right but is consistently shape-shifting and running away from their positions to suit the politics of the moment and gain power. In other words, he’s not leveling with you. He’s trying to fool you. That works since that’s basically what Romney is doing.
But more than this, politics and political messaging doesn’t work like a logical argument. They don’t work or not because the Ps & Qs don’t match up. This isn’t how peoples’ minds work, something you can know either by studying the cognitive sciences or just getting out and walking around the block.
They’re both true. So you should say both. It’ll work itself out.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.