Sunday, January 28, 2007

Brownback zigs where the others zag

TNR's Plank:What is Brownback up to?
Probably the most interesting surge-related development on the right comes courtesy of Sam Brownback. Brownback, you'll recall, is the evangelical-cum-Catholic angling to become the conservative alternative to John McCain. Up until the last few months, he was a pretty reliable supporter of the war in Iraq. But he's since concluded that the war has taken a disastrous turn, and he's become more and more willing to call the administration on it. This all culminated with this week's statement that, "I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer. ... Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution."
More interestingly, the move turns out to be pretty welcome among Brownback's desired base of social conservatives. While 52 percent of Republicans support the surge according to a just-released AP/Ipsos poll, some 60 percent of white evangelicals oppose it, as do 56 percent of self-described conservatives. So we're actually talking about a twofer here: shore up your base while positioning yourself to poach votes from the other guys. (Actually, a three-fer, since this has the added merit of being the substantively sane position.) Not bad for a day's work.

If the surge works out poorly Brownback may move up in the rankings. The only thing is this helps Brownback with his natural base, but hurts him a little with the rest of the party. Best thing that could happen to energize his base would be a Supreme Court retirement.

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