Let's Talk Flip-Flops
of the prime tools of a propagandist is to pick on a negative slogan
made up to smear a person or idea. One that you are going to hear
over and over ad nauseum until the November election is that Senator
Kerry "flip-flops" on issues. Just a minute here...it
seems there are two things to consider. The first is that any intelligent
human being is constantly willing to revise their position in light
of new evidence. Doctrinaire narrow- mindedness is not necessarily
a quality we want in our leaders, right? Of course a "know-it-all"
candidate doggedly frozen in his righteousness would never consider
changing in light of new information. Look how long it took the
Catholic Church to admit that the earth was not the center of the
Universe. Slow flip-flop, but warranted considering the overwhelming
pile of evidence against their position.
thing we have to consider is how far the Bush supporters are willing
to push this "flip-flop" thing as a negative smear. I
would hope not too much farther, for the simple reason that our
present President seems to be a master of flip-flopping, and the
Democrats might just use that to their advantage, one the right
wing succeeds in putting negative connotations on the practice of
changing one's mind. Is it a case of Bush flip-flops OK, Kerry flip
flops bad? Can we elevate the dialogue?
you call it when the President pledges not to touch the Social Security
surplus, and then a year later using that very surplus ( $1.4 trillion
dollars) for general spending? Sounds like a flip-flop to me.
was the time President Bush praised the right of Texas patients
to sue their HMO's, and then four months later vetoed a bill giving
patients that right?
And then there
was the issue of the quota system for tobacco farmers, which the
President said didn't need to be changed, and then a month later
the White House flip-flopped and said they were open to a change,
namely a federal buyout of the quota system.
time Bush said he favored leaving the decision of abortion to the
woman and her doctor and then four months later stating he was "pro
life" ( opposed to abortion in any form, as I read it.)
One of my personal
favorite was his rhetoric about getting tough with OPEC , saying
the President should get on the phone to them and dictate how much
oil they should produce, and then later refusing to do exactly that
in face of soaring oil prices.
Korea, he was dead set against offering them incentives to disarm
in '02, but all in favor of offering then incentives to disarm in
04. Should we be charitable and credit him with wisdom for flip-flopping
in the light of new developments?
He also stated
emphatically that Condoleeza Rice would not testify publicly "as
a matter of principle" on March 4 and then he announced that
he was ordering her to testify on March 30. A minor flip-flop, perhaps,
but still worthy of the term?
In 2000 he
stated that federal agencies should be guided by high scientific
standards and not by what "feels good". Then, in 2004,
we find 60 leading scientists including Nobel laureates issuing
a blast at the these agencies being so guided, claimed that the
Bush administration had suppressed and distorted scientific analysis
and had taken actions which undermined the quality of scientific
advisory panels. So much for supporting high standards.
Security, he opposed creating a cabinet office to deal with homeland
security, saying that it would not solve anything. Less than three
months later, he requested that Congress set up such an office.
And then remember
Bush's strong support of Ahmad Chalabi, the Iranian golden boy who
gave us all that false information and was prepped to be the leader
of a post-Saddam Iraq? He even invited him to the State of the Union
Address. Then four months later, evidently acting on some new information,
Bush flip-flopped and we raided Chalabi's house and seized his computers
And he said
he would not ask for any more funs in 2004 to support the Iraq War,
and then he asked for $25 billion more. I can hear the sound of
flip-flopping all the way across the cash-strapped country.
was the time when he stated that capturing Bin Laden was out number
one priority...then, as time dragged on with no capture, he changed
to a "who cares about Bin Laden" stance.
Then he said
we'd found the weapons of mass destruction, and then we hadn't.
He resisted, then supported an outside investigation on WMD intelligence
failures. Then he ignored the UN when going to war, but came to
them begging to get involved after we'd messed things up in Iraq.
And he supported free trade, and then supported heavy tariffs on
imported steel. His position that we limit ( cap) carbon dioxide
production in '00 and then opposed limiting it in '03. Then he said
states' should make their own policies about gay marriage, later
changing that to supporting a Constitutional amendment to ban it
everywhere. He opposed nation-building, then supported nation-building.
He opposed summits, then supported summits. He opposed McFCain-Feingold
and then signed it into law.
Now I'm sure
that many of President Bush's flip-flops ( the far right's term,
not mine) were honest attempts to revise a bad position call. Others,
like allowing bad science to reign after supporting good science
are not so easily -forgiven. The name-calling just gets in the way
of the issues.
I think that
we need to judge any candidate by the good or bad he does, not the
fact that he has exchanged bad ideas for good or vice-versa. The
next time you hear someone use that term "flip-flop" just
roll your eyes skyward and sigh. Surely they can find something
better to do with their time.
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