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Monday, September 27, 2004

FLIP FLOPPING AWAY 

By Mike Caine

“Faced with the absence of WMDs in Iraq [President Bush] once said, ‘We have found the weapons of mass destruction.’ Faced with a Presidential Daily Brief titled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US,’ he and his spokespersons called it ‘historical.’ In his universe, faithfulness to delusion is ‘consistency.’”

Jonathan Schell, The Nation.

What bothers “conservative” Republicans so much about politicians changing their minds? Others use the term “flip flop” but the Republicans revile “flip floppers” almost as much as “Liberal Democrats.” For some reason it seems every opponent a conservative Republican has is a “Liberal Democrat and a flip flopper.” The implication is that changing your mind about an issue is always wrong, not that the stand on the issue is wrong but the act of change itself.

The proponents of the Bush administration wrap themselves in a cloak of patriotism, peak out from underneath only long enough to point a finger at any who have changed their opinion, say the words “flip flop,” and snap back under cover. Supplanting reason and discarding facts, the mere accusation reveals the accused as a weak leader with poorly held convictions. What those convictions might be is not nearly as important as how firmly they are held. The president no longer has to justify his actions or beliefs because he is consistent. His opponent is evil because he has flip-flopped. How can killing thousands of innocents in Iraq be wrong when the president was consistent? The deficit? No problem. Keep cutting those taxes. War? No problem with consistency there. To the president’s supporters consistency is leadership and their man will never alter his course.

Of course, it is not lost on the president’s operatives that their campaign is designed to change people’s minds. Those swing voters persuaded by Republican ads are flip floppers. Shouldn’t that make them Liberal Democrats?

It seems to me that the Founding Fathers thought changing minds is what debate is supposed to do. Why else would our Congress be designed for debate? Why have a debate if the opponents cannot be swayed? The Republicans pretend that “flip flopping” is one of the great character flaws yet they have repeatedly held over debates on the floor of Congress to coerce a few more flip-flops.

I keep hearing that the president “makes a decision and sticks to it.” What happens when realizes one of his policies is wrong? Is he bound to the code of consistency regardless the consequences?

Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot that when God is on your side you are never wrong. Everything is black and white, red and blue, good and evil…

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