As a follow-on to my expression of fury about Joni Ernst having it both ways in the Iowa Senate race, Will Saletan has an instructive round-up on candidate debates around the country in which Republicans are notably on the defensive concerning their views on abortion, marriage equality, and other cultural issues. This is happening not just in blue or purple states, which you might expect, but also in places like Texas and Arizona. It’s sure a role reversal from the behavior of the two parties on cultural issues not that terribly long ago, isn’t it?

But I wouldn’t take much solace from it, particularly if Democrats and/or the media let GOPers get away with their rationalizations, evasions and sheer flip-flopping on such issues. Remember 2010? That was supposedly the year when Republicans were putting aside all those divisive “social issues” to focus like a laser beam on the “fiscal crisis.” It was immediately followed by an epidemic of antichoice legislation in Republican-controlled states, and then the “religious freedom” campaign of 2012.

So long as the Christian Right is a potent force in Republican politics, and it most definitely remains so (otherwise all these pols would have the extremist records and positioning that make them uncomfortable in general election debates), it has a mortgage on the GOP’s soul when it comes to reproductive rights in particular. And as I’ve often said, there will be one damn big balloon payment due on that mortgage next time Republicans gain national power.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.