In the past two weeks alone, consider what we've learned in the thinking primary. Sen. John McCain, according to a National Journal analysis, has voted the conservative position less frequently each of the past five years in Congress. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has asked God's forgiveness for the personal failings that have put him out of sync with many morally conservative people. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney now supports allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani believes that emphasis on Second Amendment rights hurts his party in urban areas.
Consider, however, what we haven't yet learned. What would a President McCain do to rescue the social security system from the actuarial chasm it faces? What would a President Gingrich do to protect rights of conscience in the purchase and provision of health care? What would a President Romney do about the future of the increasingly criticized No Child Left Behind law? What substance is there to the promise that a President Giuliani will put judges on the bench who practice judicial restraint, unlike the liberals he named to New York City's municipal courts?
With the rush to a "rush to judgment" behind us, there's now a real chance that these questions will be asked and that answers will be given. We'll also learn whether candidates of more consistent conservative appeal like Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, or even Fred Thompson will emerge from dark horse status.
It's food for thought, and that's just what a real party primary should be.