Then, as primary day approached, Bennie noticed a change in his opponent’s language. Brownback never used to mention abortion on the campaign trail. Now he was publicly pronouncing himself an abortion opponent. When primary day rolled around in early August, Bennie ran up an impressive 36 percent of the vote to Brownback’s 48. But he was still furious, believing Brownback had swiped the nomination by aping his positions. “I knew how I stood,” he told me. “I didn’t know how he stood.” ~Noam Scheiber, The New Republic
Mr. Bennie’s comment might well become the unflattering motto for Sam Brownback’s career. The story, as Scheiber tells it anyway, is one of how Brownback discovered his pro-life convictions in a moment of political peril. This has the feel of George Bush’s South Carolina conversion when he discovered how terribly conservative he was when it was convenient to be such a thing, and it makes me assume that Brownback’s commitment on these issues may not be as straightforward as I would have originally thought. Maybe people only care how Brownback has voted, and when it comes to the votes he has been reliably pro-life, but in its way the tale of Brownback’s “conversion” is more worrisome than Romney’s. Neither of them has much of a realistic chance at the nomination, but social conservatives cannot be terribly excited to have a Massachusetts governor and Bob Dole’s successor as their chief representatives in the upcoming race. There is an opening here for Tancredo, who could say, “I believe we should protect the unborn and the border.” Romney and Brownback cannot say the same.