Jonah Goldberg, writing about Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, pinpoints something that has also occurred to me lately:
The war on terror hasn't just changed Giuliani's profile as a crisis-leader, it's changed the attitudes of many Americans, particularly conservatives, about the central crisis facing the country. It's not that pro-lifers are less pro-life or that social conservatives are suddenly OK with homosexuality, gun control and other issues where Giuliani's dissent from mainstream conservative opinion would normally disqualify him. It's that they really, really believe the war on terror is for real.
The conventional wisdom has been that Republicans have to cater to the ultra-conservative base to get the presidential nomination, the Democrats have to cater to the ultra-liberal base, then both candidates scurry back to the middle during the campaign. If the Republican base is changing, if it cares more about the war on terror than what were once its core issues, then the equation no longer works.
I have no clue what this will mean for the election. If a true Republican "moderate" -- meaning conservative on security issues, liberal on social ones -- runs against a Democrat who is obviously only trying to appear moderate, it should help the Republicans. But if there is still a lot of anger over the war and Republicans are blamed, that probably won't matter much.