As I said in the comments to the Goode post below, I held my fire on Goode leading up to the Convention because I don’t want to get a reputation as the purist naysayer who balks at every big name candidate the CP tries to recruit. Plus I didn’t sense that there was enough anti-Goode sentiment to muster anyway or an acceptable non-Goode candidate around which to rally even if there was. I let it be known that I had concerns about Goode, but didn’t go on the war path the way I did about Keyes. I don’t think Goode’s nomination is the disaster that Keyes’ would have been because Keyes brought with him a whole system of ideological baggage that Goode does not.
That said, had I sensed that there was a sufficient well of opposition to Goode and a better candidate to rally around, I probably would have said more publicly. I don’t want to appear to overestimate my influence, which is minimal, but I would have felt better if I had tried.
I’m glad Castle stepped up and at least gave the delegates an option, but I think the “purist” faction, for lack of a better term, is partially to blame here as well. The candidates have been known, by and large, for a while. If they thought Goode was less than ideal but didn’t think Wells was an acceptable alternative, then it demonstrates a lack of organization and planning on their part that they didn’t come up with a candidate to rally around sooner. Had Castle been approached earlier and declined?
I do not demand perfection from candidates, and it is not Goode’s votes that concern me as much as his unwillingness to walk back from them. (Any ex-elected Congressman is going to have votes that are problematic from a constitutionalist standpoint, but are they willing to embrace constitutionalism now?) Apparently he was pretty clear in his Convention speech about his Patriot Act vote, but he seemed to me to be deliberately dodging the foreign policy issue prior to the Convention. I suspect he doesn’t want to alienate disaffected Republicans who refuse to vote for Romney but would be turned off by full-blown Paul style non-interventionism. I also suspect he is trying to keep open the potential for getting the AIP ballot line in California and embracing full-throated non-interventionism would jeopardize that.
Here is the problem with the Goode nomination as I see it. The CP already has a serious identity problem. This is a problem of the perception of people on the outside, but also a real problem of identity on the inside. Is the Constitution Party the party of mainstream “three-legs-of-the-stool” conservatism just more so than the insufficiently so Republican Party, or does it represent a fundamentally different understanding of what it means to be a conservative? In other words, is it simply a party that is more conservative by degree, or is it different in kind? I hope it is the latter. I think in many ways it is the latter. (See my reply to Savrola for more details on my sense of what the CP coalition is.) But it has historically done a lousy job of making this distinction, and the nomination of Virgil Goode contributes to this lack of clarity.
Update: See my post above.