This is not just an observation about why Romney lost in 2012, but explains what has happened to a party where certainty and partisan inflexibility have not only become more important than governing or problem solving, but have been elevated as values that trump analytical rigor our sound strategic thinking. The Republican Party has become one where certainty and faith are among the most cherished values of both the leadership and the base. The same is true of the Democratic Party, but to a much smaller degree. President Obama's almost freakish commitment to the concept of consequence, for example, stands in stark contrast to his predecessor's incessant boasting about his certainty. The leap between being surprised on Election Night in 2012 and believing climate change is a hoax is not that big. In both cases, eschewing scientific approaches leads to fundamental misunderstandings of reality. In 2012 it helped cost Mitt Romney the presidency. In the policy arena the consequences for the anti-science approach could be much higher.
These are the words I kept waiting for Barack Obama to say while I listened to Friday night's debate. I lost track of how many times John McCain called Obama naïve, but it seemed like at least a dozen. You can be certain that some Frank Luntz type within the McCain campaign did focus groups and other tests and determined that voters could be persuaded that Obama is "naïve." The Republican logic behind this is understandable. After all, Obama is a skinny 47 year-old who looks younger than his years, has never served in the military and seems to believe that we should take an approach to foreign policy that is less militaristic and confrontational. In McCainland, this makes you naïve.