I guess I'm going to make a habit out of answering Ezra Klein's weekend questions. Or at least this week's, because it's super easy:
In 2008, Republicans nominated a candidate who’d fought the 2003 Bush tax cuts, opposed torture, sponsored the first cap-and-trade bill introduced in the Senate, flirted with joining the Democrats, passed a campaign-finance reform law, led the fight for comprehensive immigration reform and attacked the Christian Right. So why are so many commentators so certain that the heterodoxies of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman will disqualify them?
The answer has nothing to do with the substance of the underlying policies -- god knows political commentators couldn't care less about the substance of the underlying policies -- and more to do with guilt by association.
In 2008, superficially aligning oneself with George W. Bush was assumed to be a political liability.
In 2012, superficially aligning oneself with Barack Obama is assumed to be a political liability (at least, for Republicans).
It really is that simple. To the extent that this is true, it says a lot about the Republican base. To the extent that it's not, it says a lot about the quality of our political media.