"Do voters value candor?"
That's the question posed by Adam Nagourney today in the New York Times. And in looking for examples of Candor Mattering, he turns his attention to the Empire State. There, Nagourney says, Mario Cuomo succeeded with straight talk in his 1982 bid for the governorship. "Indeed," he writes, "the concept outlined by Mr. Cuomo - the value of actually telling voters something they do not agree with - is emerging as one of the dominant themes in the Republican presidential contest." And straight out of New York, Rudy Giuliani is emerging as the Candor Candidate of 2008, according to Nagourney.
As an example of "the power of this dynamic," Ad Nags cites Rudy's recent performance in front of the "Voters Values" Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council. There, Giuliani took the stage and beseeched the crowd, "Take me as I am." Preferably to the White House. Giuliani told the crowd that he felt "trust was more important than 100 percent agreement," adding:
"What you're entitled to from me is what I really believe -- the sum total of my intellect, my experience, my education, my conscience, my heart, my mind, and then you have a right to agree with that, disagree with it, partially agree, partially disagree and then figure out if I'm the right person for you to support. But for me to twist myself all up to try to figure out exactly what you want to hear and today say one thing and the next day another thing and a year from now - if you do that too long, you lose the sense of what leadership is all about."
Knit up in Nagourney's storyline, however, is Giuliani's foil: Mitt Romney. And what Nagourney sees in Romney is an unmistakable "ideological elasticity." If Giuliani is forthright at his own expense, Romney is the serial flip-flopper.
"Over the course of his career - as anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to this contest knows - Mr. Romney has switched positions on issues ranging from abortion to gun control to gay rights," Nagourney writes.
Romney's propensity for position-switching is well documented, most recently by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker. Yet, if you are anyone who has perhaps paid even more than "slight attention" attention to this contest, you might also recognize this proclivity in - wait for it - Rudy Giuliani. He's changed positions on Israel policy, abortion, gun control, and, most recently, on gay marriage. How recent? He pledged to support a constitutional ban on gay marriage to the FRC's Tony Perkins just hours after playing the candor card at the summit.
As John Aravosis documents, that's a festive little bit of, well, Romneyesque maneuvering. So while it's appropriate for Nagourney to wonder whether voters value candor in their presidential contenders, it's equally appropriate to note that readers value thoroughness in the reporters covering the presidential contenders.