'Both Ways Bob' can diffuse the title
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
The following article was originally published by Grand Junction Free Press on July 10, 2006.
As gubernatorial hopeful Bob Beauprez is pelted with attacks from the left, he can take little solace in the adage contrasting sticks and stones with words. Of course words can hurt, and never more so than in politics.
The far-left Progress Now has even set up the web page BothWaysBob.com. That's clever though over-used. (You know the left is having an identity crisis when it copies a play from Karl Rove and the Presidents Bush.)
As if that weren't enough, the left-wing Denver Post has become the de facto propaganda arm of the Bill Ritter for Governor campaign, attempting to make the "both ways" tag stick and draw Beauprez out of the business loop. (The delusional left now thinks that its high-tax, high-regulatory policies are somehow "pro-business." Mesa County voters, who rejected the Referendum C tax hike by a two-to-one margin, know better.)
If voters remember the "Both Ways Bob" tag in the voting booth, that will remind them, not of the particular policies in question, but of the mere fact that Beauprez was humiliated. In politics, there is no greater sin.
But we think Beauprez can easily diffuse the ruse. He doesn't even have to mention the phrase. Something like this would work: "Bob Beauprez -- the way of leadership and experience." That redefines "two ways" with a positive spin.
And if we're going to have fun with name-calling, let Ritter try this one on for size.
"Bill Ritter wanted to take more of your hard-earned money and hand it over to politicians and bureaucrats, a plan the special interests loved. Bill Ritter also admitted to smoking marijuana before he became a big-city Denver prosecutor. Higher taxes? What have you been smoking, Bill? Bill Ritter supported higher taxes before, and we suspect he'd be a repeat offender. This bill is too high. It's time to clear the air. Vote for Bob Beauprez -- vote for the way of leadership and experience."
Or something like that. This would be even more fun if the measure to partly legalize marijuana makes the ballot for the fall.
We have news for those making fun of going "both ways." If you've never changed your mind about anything, you are a complete idiot.
Obviously stability is a virtue in the proper context. But stability doesn't mean never changing your mind. A healthy stability comes from applying reason to the problems that confront us. Sometimes, in reason, we come to find that our previous conclusions need revision.
So the proper question is not whether Beaupez ever changed his position. Any politician can be found to have gone "both ways" on some issue or other. If Marc Holtzman hadn't damaged his own Republican party by hanging the "both ways" chain around Beauprez's neck, we're sure Beauprez could have started knocking around "Both Ways Bill." But nobody likes a copycat, at least in the particulars.
The latest "both ways" charge is that Beauprez changed his mind on Amendment 38, the petition-rights initiative (see pra2006.com). But that's hardly an easy issue. We appreciate the intentions of Dennis Polhill and Douglas Campbell in supporting the reform. But would it be used by citizens to rein in abuses of government or captured by special interests? The answer is probably both. So is it, on net, a worthy reform? We could argue both sides. We don't begrudge Beauprez for rethinking his position on this one.
In Colorado politics, no candidate is consistently true to the principles of individual rights and free markets. Only a few even come close. So, in that sense, all politicians go "both ways," sometimes defending rights and sometimes trampling them.
For example, we're hardly pleased with the record of Governor Bill Owens. True enough, under Owens a better concealed carry system and more protections against abuses of eminent domain made it through. Yet he also left a legacy of higher net taxes, more gun control, and more government subversion of property rights in the form of the smoking ban.
Ritter, having never served in a legislative capacity, can afford to remain comfortably ambiguous on many issues. (Is it worse to have gone "both ways" or never to have gone at all?) What is certain is that Ritter's way would be much harder left than Beauprez's way. In this case, we prefer the hesitant hand-wringing of the unprincipled Republican establishment to the far-left's marching orders.
And we can only hope that state government will go both ways. A Democratic sweep would be a disaster. The left already controls the state's courts and both houses of the legislature. If the Democrats also controlled the governor's mansion, we would soon suffer a renewed arrogance of the left. The left-wing interest groups would exert enormous pressure to revitalize their causes that have, for the past few years, been sidelined.