We all know that the turning point in the public mind for John Kerry’s candidacy was his famous “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” when speaking of his ultimate vote against military appropriations for Afghanistan and Vietnam. Voters were left with the impression that this was a man who was so layered in random nuance and political calculation that, when he actually had to make a stand, he turned his back on principles and went with poll-driven expediency.
Democrats are now trying to make the same play against Sarah Palin by pointing to the fact that she used to accept substantial earmarks for Wasilla, and that she was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it. What they don’t get is that her trajectory is completely different from Kerry’s.
Kerry went from an acceptable decision to an unacceptable one. Palin, however, traveled in the other direction: She went from making bad decisions to making good decisions. She had an upward learning curve, both at a practical and a values level. As she mastered governance, she opted for principles over politics as usual. I think that’s something to applaud, not to insult.