SPLITTING THE DIFFERENCE….James Joyner has a question today:

Reading various commentaries on President Bush, there seem to be two mutually exclusive opinions floating around:

  • He’s in danger of losing his base because he does not fight hard enough for conservative principles and is willing to compromise on damned near anything.

  • He’s energizing his opponents and driving away moderates in droves because he is a right wing ideologue who refuses to make even the slightest concession to achieve consensus.

Which is it? It can’t be both, can it?

The funny thing is that the answer is: yes, both of these things can indeed be true.

After all, successful candidates are the ones who manage to walk the very fine line between energizing their base with red meat while at the same time appearing moderate and conciliatory to the vast middle of the electorate. If a good candidate can pull off that trick, surely a bad candidate who tries to do the same thing can manage to screw up both ends of the deal.

(By way of analogy, there are scads of examples in the corporate world of companies trying to broaden their appeal to a new market and managing not just to fail in the attempt, but to lose their original customers as well. In fact, I’d guess that that’s actually the most common result of image extension exercises.)

I don’t know if this is what’s happening to Bush, but I sure hope so. I can’t think of a more deserving brand to get crushed by a disappointed customer base.

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