In the 2004 presidential election, the republicans were successful in painting Democratic nominee John Kerry as a notorious flip-flopper-I know, four years ago.who remembers that? It should come as no surprise the Grand Ol’ Party is once again attempting to paint its opponent as a flip-flopper, and perhaps rightly so.
Over the summer, Obama declined to participate in public financing without certain preconditions; Obama ‘modified’ his position on an Iraq troop withdrawal sometime in July; between 2004 and 2007 he changed his mind on lifting the Cuban Trade Embargo; Obama opposed cracking down on businesses hiring illegal immigrants in 2004, but he stated in the 2008 primary debates that we should crack down on employers taking advantage of the situation; and most recently, Obama said he would delay rescinding Bush’s tax cuts if the economy is in a recession.
So Obama changed his mind a few times. Sounds like a typical politician to me, which hurts him in a campaign built upon hope and change. Similar to the way President Clinton rallied the LGBTA community to vote for him in ’92 and later approved the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)-arguably the most anti-homosexual legislation ever passed-Obama is now changing his mind in an attempt to move center of left. It’s nothing new; many politicians change their positions in an effort to appeal to moderate voters. Political pundits call it flip-flopping.OoOo the word sounds so degrading. Can’t we call it something less negative, like ‘thoughtful opinion restructuring’?
Don’t read me wrong-McCain is just as guilty of flip-flopping as Obama, perhaps more so.
On his website Thecarpetbaggerreport.com, liberal egghead political commentator Steve Benen has compiled an extensive list of the McCain flip-flops, among them:
McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but has since decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reported that during McCain’s last run for the presidency in 1999, he supported the drilling moratorium. In June 2008, McCain announced that those very same “moratoria should be lifted” and proposed incentives for the states willing to drill.
McCain used to oppose Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, but he reversed course in February 2006.
In an attempt to gain support from religious conservatives, McCain sought the endorsement of televangelist John Hagee-who claimed Hitler was part of God’s plan to chase Jews from Europe to Palestine and bring about the ‘End of Days’-but in May 2008 McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement after his sermons were publicized.
McCain supported a major campaign-finance reform measure that bore his name. In June 2006, he abandoned his own legislation.
And McCain opposed torture, but then caved to White House demands.
For more on McCain’s flip-flopping ways, feel free to visit Benen’s website, www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/flipflops, or do your own research.
So where does this leave us, the bewildered voters?
We have to recognize that politicians, and people everywhere, often change their minds in light of new evidence or changing situations. Flip-flopping isn’t always a detestable political move, yet mainstream media outlets often broadcast a politician’s change of opinion in the simplest terms possible: the anchorperson reports Obama flip-flopped today, and suddenly voters are disgusted and change their minds about voting for a candidate (see the irony here?). I say we let the term flip-flop die with dignity. Let’s put an end to the political use of flip-flop as a verb (Obama flip-flopped today), adjective (The flip-flopping McCain announced.), or noun (Palin is a flip-flopper).
This election leaves us in a position to take a chance on either politician. Do we want the hardened war hero, or the optimistic ivy-league community organizer? Both candidates are flip-floppers.pardon me-thoughtful opinion restructurers-and both candidates will probably thoughtfully restructure their positions after the election.
Frank Fraser is a West Chester graduate student. He can be reached at FF57814@wcupa.edu.