Stepped on a pop top
During the 2004 presidential race, Senator John Kerry was labeled a flip-flopper on various issues. To be fair, I thought the charge was unfounded - Kerry had more trouble articulating a clear position than a candidate should, but generally it was more because he pandered for votes than because he didn't have a clear position (and, to be clear, I mean to use the second definition of the term. If I were talking about the first meaning, it would probably be in reference an incident from the past of a different elected official from Massachusetts).
Now it seems there is someone else flip-flopping. Howard Dean spoke in Mississippi, and what he said was pretty different than what he said just a few days before.
It seems that some pro-life folks are right wing politicians trying to tell women what to do with their bodies. Others however, "care about kids after they're born, not just before they're born." One could be forgiven for thinking Dr. Dean has been reading former (Democratic) Governor Bob Casey's book.
After all, Casey points out that "[the exodus of Democrats over abortion has been] a boon to the Republican Party - in the south especially. And it remains a problem for Democratic leaders who are trying in vain to stem the tide."
His answer to the "moderate" Republicans Dean seemed so fond of? "'I'm a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.' We hear this more and more from Republicans.... An ample bank account is no substitute for a well-informed conscience. No re-ordering of the tax code, no trimming of the budget, no amount of economic freedom will solve our society's deeper troubles."
As Casey points out, the Republican party, without a strong pro-life conviction on abortion, has no need of a "big tent" because it would fit in a pup tent.
His reference to caring for children before and after they're born is right on the mark though. He is taking a page from President Bush's playbook - "There are some proper ways to say things, and some improper ways" in learning how to say things that will appeal to voters who focus on social issues. This is a much better way to address the issue than I have seen fom a Democrat with national stature in a long time.
Dr. Dean is an intelligent man, and one who knows how to appeal to a specific segment of voters. When one recalls that he was a huge DLC type when he was governor, then managed to draw the far left into his campaign, it would be a mistake to underestimate his ability to craft a message to a specific audience.
That said, Dr. Dean must be careful, because in this age of the internet, Matt Drudge, bloggers, and the like, comments like this, that plainly contradict previous statements, will cause a lack of faith.
Oh, and saying "The South will rise again, and when it does, it will have a D under its name" is a recipe for disaster. Sounding like this might play well in certain crowds, but it might also call to mind the the last time the South was solidly Democratic. I think Dr. Dean would agree that was not a good thing.