Photo Credit: Donkey Hotey (Creative Commons)

This year’s Republican presidential wannabes all have a past. They’ve all held responsible positions requiring hard decisions. Some decisions were controversial when made and remain so; others look more like mistakes now, with the advantage of hindsight.

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In politics, opponents and critics try to hang every decision around the neck of the incumbent, and if possible, set fire to the tire. Every candidate with a record has to defend it, run from it or use it to his or her advantage.

Mitt Romney has RomneyCare; Tim Pawlenty supported cap-and-trade and agreed to some pretty silly renewable-energy mandates as governor of Minnesota; Mitch Daniels infuriated supporters of state right-to-work laws, backed a tax increase early in his first term and has suggested what he calls a “truce” on social issues. Mike Huckabee, as governor of Arkansas, pardoned a hardened criminal who went on to kill several law enforcement officers, and Haley Barbour worked for years as that most hated of all Washington professionals: a lobbyist.

President Obama faced none of these problems when he ran for president. He had never held a job that required him to make hard decisions, and did all he could to avoid tough votes as an Illinois state senator. Though a reliably liberal U.S. senator, he ran for president in a way that allowed voters to define him as they liked.

Indeed, as is often the case when running against an incumbent with a record, he promised “change,” but didn’t really define the sort of change his election might bring. Obama benefited greatly from the fact that his opponent in the Democratic primaries also had a record and had taken positions on controversial issues for years — positions that contributed to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) ultimate defeat.

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Read More at The Hill

Photo Credit: Donkey Hotey (Creative Commons)

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