The drawback of wearing your heart on your sleeve (or your blog) is letting your emotions take you somewhere you don’t want to go in public. Case in point: Andrew Sullivan’s virtual endorsement of John Kerry, apparently motivated by the elephant in the room that James Joyner points out—the president’s position on same-sex marriage, something that Sullivan doesn’t bother mentioning in the column, but looms over the whole discussion for anyone familiar with Sullivan’s tireless crusading on the issue. Whatever one’s feelings on Bush’s handling of the issue (and, there, I’m largely in agreement with Sullivan, though I do lack the personal self-interest angle), wishing John Kerry were conservative isn’t going to make him conservative, as Stephen Green points out, and it’s disingenuous for Sullivan (or anyone else who genuinely considers themselves conservative) to believe otherwise.*
That said, I think it is reasonable to suspect a hypothetical President Kerry, if his election is unaccompanied by a return to Democratic control of Congress, will be forced by circumstances—namely a hostile Congress—to govern more conservatively (at least on the fiscal side of the ledger) than Bush has. But I don’t think Kerry’s instincts will be conservative, or even moderate for that matter, and in the areas of policy where there isn’t a strong check by Congress I think he will move in an unabashedly liberal direction.
* I could see an argument that Kerry would be a better libertarian choice than Bush. That argument, however, isn’t being advanced by Sullivan or any other conservative (by definition), but rather by libertarians like Jacob Levy.