Back in the old days, not only could politicians expect to be able to say one thing to one audience and the opposite to another and get away with it, they could also say one thing one decade and another the next and have a reasonable expectation that the past would be difficult to dig up and circulate. Now, non-stop cable news combines with YouTube and blogs to create an environment in which something as juicy as this clip can spread essentially instantly.
People will forgive a lot, but behavior that reeks of hypocrisy is something that the public seems reluctant to swallow, and Daschle’s stepping down and Obama’s public apology were good moves, despite the fact that Daschle may well BE the best guy in DC for the job. But like Mitt Romney’s 1990s opinion on abortion, a politician’s words can come back to haunt him in an electronic world — and not just the ugly ones. But of course the danger is that sometimes people SHOULD change their minds, and it would be a tragedy if the fear of old quotes and video clips pushed public figures into pursuing that hobgoblin of little minds, foolish consistency. We’ve had enough of that over the past eight years.