July 18, 2008
the amateur's guide to flip-flopping
John Kerry lost the last presidential election, in many people's estimation, because of his being tagged as a "flip-flopper".
John Kerry was a punter compared to the leftist demi-god messiah, Barack Obama.
In the last few weeks Obama has flipped and flopped around, with such astonishing speed, on matters of such importance like the war in Iraq, that it's actually difficult keep up with his ever changing positions and positioning.
He has twisted himself into knots at this point, as a master political contortionist.
After saying whatever he needed to in order to lock up the far left base of the Democratic party by running to the left of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, Obama shrewdly and cynically deduced that he had to move to the political center in order to begin the process of appealing to the non-far left leaning contingent of voters he would be required to successfully romance in order to win a general election. He would at least need to soften some of what many people correctly imagined as some of his more far left positions into more palatable forms for the mass consumption of the general electorate. His campaign I'm sure would argue that this all is merely a matter of emphasis. You see, by emphasizing the more conservative elements of his existing platform he could soften his hard left edge without actually changing his fundamental positions. This explanation is of course hogwash. Obama has in recent weeks, changed wholesale positions on major issues. On issues about which none are simply so nuanced as to have such conveniently ambiguous parameters that there is no real way of knowing what is triangulation and what is the simple adopting of the direct opposing position. Let's rundown Barack Obama and his 'flip flopper's guide to the galaxy'.
• (Iraq) In the case of the war in Iraq, Obama has changed from one position to another and then back to the original position in the span of 48 hours. He based his entire primary campaign against Hillary as the true anti-war candidate, but in the last few weeks has now said that he would be making "refinements" in his Iraq policy. Refinements that include listening to the commanders fighting the war rather than imposing the arbitrary timetable for withdrawal that was trumpeted as his position in the primary campaign. But now he has flipped back to the original position because of the outcry coming from his far left anti-war base who have no time for the argument that our course of action in Iraq should not be dictated by leftist politicians making academic pronouncements and judgments about a tactical and strategic military situation. This is an example of what I call the compound flip flop, where's there's a flop, then a flip and then another flop back to the original position.
•(FISA) Many of Obama's most ardent supporters have found their candidate's blatant flip-flop on the issue of FISA wiretaps and telecom immunity difficult to stomach. In the primary, Obama promised to filibuster a bill to protect telephone companies from liability for their cooperation with national security wiretaps, then he flipped and voted for the exact legislation he promised to rebuke. The diametric flip flop.
• (Gun Control/2nd amendment) After a recent supreme court decision lifting a ban on handguns in Washington DC, Obama was seen pronouncing that he "has been a consistent supporter of the second amendment." (By the way, whenever you hear someone say that, "they have always been consistent" or John Kerry's favorite "let me be clear", you have a clear indication that the person making those remarks is in fact in the process of flip flopping.) Shortly after declaring support for the second amendment out of nowhere Obama then essentially recanted by attempting to straddle the issue by saying that he was also in fact for the regulation of hand guns by the federal government. The 2nd amendment is unambiguous. It states that The government "shall not infringe" on a citizens right to keep and bear arms. Either you support the 2nd amendment or you do not. But Obama on this is clumsily trying to triangulate by appealing to both polar opposite positions. Instead of triangulation though all he really is doing is flipping and flopping back and forth so fast that it becomes so difficult to track that people lose interest in actually figuring out where he stands on the issue. The high speed flip flop.
• (Public campaign funding) One of Obama's signature positions, as the self declared standard bearer of the "new politics", was his promise not to take private money for his campaign. That was before he saw just how much money he could raise privately. He now has completely flipped on the issue by spurning the public finance system he previously promoted. The signature issue flip-flop.
• (an undivided Jerusalem) When speaking to the Israeli lobby in a speech a few weeks ago Obama declared that he was fully supportive of an undivided Jerusalem. Then the Palestinians reacted badly and Obama flipped over to the mindset that Jerusalem should be shared by both Jews and Palestinians. The foreign policy gaffe flip-flop.
• (direct talks with Ahmadinejad, Chavez) At the You Tube debate last year, Obama famously declared that unlike the Bush administration he was in favor of direct talks with all of the leaders of various rogue nations. Obama indicated that he would be for talks with Ahmadinejad, Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez ,and Kim Jung Il with "no preconditions". These days he has heavily backpedaled into a back flip on the issue. He has done a back pedal flip flop on this issue whereas he now would want some form of "pre-conditions" before meeting with the various rogue nation heads of state mentioned in the original YouTube question.
• (town hall meetings) McCain challenged Obama to a series of town hall meetings style debates where both candidates would be subject to direct questions from the general public. Obama, not wanting to look like he was backing out of a confrontation with the lowly John McCain, initially entertained the idea to only later and quietly deny the request. Apparently Obama isn't as much of a fan of town hall meetings as his book "The Audacity of Hope" would have us believe. There's a passage in the book explaining how and why he loves town hall meetings so much. That was before he might be subjected to difficult questions I suppose. The hypocritical duality flip flop.
• (Partial birth abortions) Obama was once the champion of abortion in all of its grisly forms. Now he seems to be having doubts about the practice of partial birth abortion. Again, either you support partial birth abortion or you don't. The abortion related flip-flop.
And unlike McCain changing on domestic drilling, for example, who may do so because of drastic changes in the facts on the ground, Obama has been wildly flip-flopping for no other reason than political expediency. In other words, Obama needs to be able to adopt whatever stance at whatever time for whatever political reason on whatever issue.
This is flip flopping redefined. 'Change (of position) you can believe in' indeed.
Vive la flip-flop!