Suppose someone seeking the presidential nomination had, as a governor, signed the largest tax increase in his state's history and the nation's most permissive abortion law. And by signing a law institutionalizing no-fault divorce, he had unwittingly but substantially advanced an idea central to the campaign for same-sex marriages -- the minimalist understanding of marriage as merely a contract between consenting adults to be entered into or dissolved as it suits their happiness.
Question: Is it not likely that such a presidential aspirant would be derided by some of today's fastidious conservatives? A sobering thought, that, because the attributes just described were those of Ronald Reagan.
Ah yes, Ronald Reagan--the Paragon of All That is Good and Right in Conservatism, With Which No One May Disagree (TM).
Mr. Will, I have two words for you: Anthony Kennedy.
Here are three more: Sandra Day O'Connor.
Reagan may be lauded for his part in bringing the Soviet Union to his knees, but he was a friend to the pro-life movement in name only, if even that--and it's his judicial appointments that are in large part responsible for the deep skepticism with which conservatives are viewing Romney, McCain, and Giuliani today.