Mike Huckabee's commutation of Maurice Clemmons will be a disqualifying political liability and the legitimacy afforded to the anti-global-warming furor are at least partly of the same piece. They both were political winners for Republicans. For much of the DC press, the traumas inflicted upon Democrats by the spotted owl, Willie Horton, welfare queens, and various other Reagan-era bugaboos seem to be alive and kicking, 20 years later.
I'm not sure what evidence would convince reporters that the political salience and dynamics of crime, environmentalism, and social spending have changed. How many more electoral drubbings would Republicans have to take?