To begin with, flip-flopping is as old as humankind. Repeatedly every person has opened their mouth and said something they later retracted, altered, or denied. If you get really good at it you’ve met the main qualification for being elected to public office. But, if you reach the absolute heights of flip-flopping you may end up with your own talk-radio program or hour-long news/commentary show on a cable news channel. At either level, though, you are given license to talk about the flip-flopping of others while ignoring your own flip-flopping.
In 2004 the GOP was all over John Kerry for supposed flip-flopping on issues like the war in Iraq, tax cuts, medical marijuana, gay marriage, welfare reform and NAFTA. The Republican Party even produced actual pairs of John Kerry Flip-Flops to hand out as campaign memorabilia.
In the 2008 presidential campaign both Obama and McClain often accused each other of flip-flopping on the issues and in 2010 McCain was all over himself trying to save his Senate seat from Arizona. The great “maverick” became the great, I’m whatever it takes to win your vote, candidate. Matter of fact, after all the I’m now for/I’m now against gyrations since 2008, McCain still hasn’t been able to settle down with a stable position regarding several issues. He’s been all over the place about exercising American military power in the world. One moment he’s demanding strategy in Iraq be left to field commanders on the ground, then he’s supporting Bush’s decision to impose a time-table for withdrawal and then flopping again when Obama implements the Bush timetable.
The 2011-12 presidential race may mark a new high-water line in campaign flip-flopping. It wouldn’t be difficult to point an undulating finger at President Obama but his flips and flops pale in comparison to most of those vying for the GOP nomination this go-round. Between having to retract frequent historical errors famously made by Bachmann, Perry, and Cain, to Romney’s constant need to readjust his position statements because his position changes to fit whatever crowd he is standing in front of, these mouth-breathing, fish out of water, conservative types, have taken the art form to the moon and beyond.
Watching the current “silly season” I have found one thing I can agree with the Tea Party about, Romney is not a viable presidential candidate. Our reasons differ, the TP sees him as being less than a true conservative while I see him as simply being a huge question mark. What the hell does he really believe in? He’s had more positions on major issues than Erica Kane had husbands and lovers on All My Children. Most recently he changed positions on Ohio’s Issue 2 three times in as many days. First he fully supported voting yes on the issue, the next day he flipped to being neutral, and on the third day he ascended back into the yes column. There’s obviously nobody at the wheel of the Romney vehicle. It is simply going down the campaign highway ricocheting from tree to utility pole and taking whatever path the laws of political physics dictate.
And Herman Cain! What can you say about the Herminator other than he obviously didn’t spend a good five-minutes thinking about what issues he may have to discuss if he threw himself into the presidential wars. This guy is a one-man impromptu comedy show making up the skit as the show unfolds. Mr. Haggan-Dazs Black-Walnut even went so far as to tell ABC News that his flip-flopping was evidence of his readiness to be our president.
Al Sharpton said that if the race for the presidency came down to voting for Obama or Cain, two African-Americans, he couldn’t vote for Cain, regardless of what color he is. Borrowing from the Reverend, I’m going to say that even if I was a Republican I couldn’t vote for any of those vying for this year’s GOP nomination. This is about he biggest collection of jokes and fools ever assembled on a given stage. The only ones who have a solid and consistent position on most issues are Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Santorum is consistently homophobic and anti everything not conforming to strict Roman Catholic beliefs while Libertarian Ron Paul is consistently opposed to most popular gains made in during the Twentieth Century. If he could, Ron Paul would veto the nineteen hundreds.
On second thought, others do have consistency. Newt is consistently wrong about most things, he is consistently unfaithful to the women who’ve entered his life, and he has a less than stellar reputation regarding political ethics. Perry and Bachmann are consistently ill-prepared regarding historical accuracy and consistently supportive of extremely conservative Christian dominionistic tenets and would gladly welcome a right-winged Christian theocracy in America. Cain is consistently ill-informed and infatuated with his own charisma. Jon Huntsman, who seems the only sane one in the herd, is consistently unknown while Mitt Romney, the agreed to eventual front-runner, is just consistently inconsistent.
Another thing all may have in common is a desire to head up a form of government they don’t believe in. They do not believe in a common federalist republic capable of equally protecting the rights of all its citizens in the eyes of the law. Instead they seem to be seeking the presidency as a means of dismantling a constitutionally based government that has survived for almost two and a half centuries of trial and turmoil, establishing itself as the example for all others.
Finally, whatever you think I just said, I really didn’t mean it the way you took it. Don’t take anything I’ve said out of context but be assured whatever you think you understood will be clarified in a forthcoming position paper. We’re cool on that, aren’t we?
FOOTNOTE: Two days after finishing this piece Herman Cain was accused of sexually harassing and making sexual gestures towards to former female employees. The incident gave Cain a wonderful opportunity to flip-flop and he took full advantage of it. First he denied all knowledge, then he said it may have happened, then he admitted there had been an incident but there was no settlement, then he admitted to a settlement but insisted it wasn’t too much. But his main argument has been, as always, he’s the victim of a liberal smear tactic. I haven’t had breakfast yet but a stack of waffles sure sounds appropriate.