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Flipfloppery: Political Inconsistency Pt 1

Posted Sep 23 2008 1:19am

What the heck! After the last time, I said I’d never do it again, but now I’m going ahead and coining another new word. Flipfloppery: (noun) political inconsistency as expressed through changing positions on issues

Today’s post is the first part of a three part examination of flipfloppery in the Republican and Democratic candidates for US President. Let’s begin with age before beauty. How doeth John McCain flip flop? Let me count the ways. Here’s a video that says it all.

Or, just read this incomplete list:

TAXES AND FINANCE: Only three years ago, McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By last year, he was denying that he ever said that, while insisting that his problem with the tax cuts was due to increased government spending. Oh, and now he’s in favor of making the tax cuts permanent.

 

On ABC, he publicly pledged that he would not raise taxes under any circumstances. Two weeks later in the Wall Street Journal he made it clear that he wasn’t promising that he would never raise taxes. As a presidential candidate, he offered a Social Security policy that he later denounced (yes, his own proposal.) John McCain is on the record saying that the estate tax is fair. But he thinks the opposite is true.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM: McCain is all over the map. First he made a name for himself by getting in trouble with Savings & Loan scandal. Then he introduced legislation in this area, which we all know as McCain-Feingold. Then, he refused to support such legislation. McCain did sponsor legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. A year later he was explaining to groups that he opposed this (his own) measure.

TERRORISM, IRAN : He was opposed to waterboarding, then for it. He once thought we should try diplomacy with Syria and Hamas, but he’s against that. Though he portrays himself as a consistent hard-liner on Iran, when Senator Frank Lautenberg tried to close a loophole in the Sanctions Law being applied to Iran, a loophole that allows US companies to use foreign shell companies to do business with terrorist sponsoring nations, Senator McCain voted to keep it open, thus allowing revenue to flow to Iran.

IMMIGRATION: He introduced immigration legislation that he later opposed.

SOCIAL ISSUES: McCain is on record as saying he would not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Now he says the opposite. In a 2007 Vanity Fair interview, he said that gay marriage ought to be allowed. He then reaffirmed this on ‘Hardball’, while also saying that it shouldn’t be allowed. Though he thinks a marriage ceremony is fine. Huh? He opposed the Martin Luthor King Jr. holiday before supporting it, and he has come down on both sides of the issue when it comes to states displaying the Confederate flag. Oh, and he was pro-ethanol, before he was anti-ethanol, before being pro-ethanol again.

THE WAR IN IRAQ: On the war, his record is hard to understand…slipsloppery flipfloppery is the best way I can describe it. Or not. You decide. Before the war, he said we would easily win it. A few years later, he said he knew all along that the war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough.” In 2003, he said it was a mission accomplished. In 2004, he said we were on the right course.” In 2005, he said that if we stayed the course, we would make progress. In 2007, he did a turnabout on his belief that we needed a long term presence of US Troops in Iraq, by saying that it was inevitable that we would have to eventually withdraw “because of the nature of the society in Iraq.” Then he came back around to his original position (I think, I’m getting dizzy just trying to follow this) by stating that he was prepared to leave our troops there for 100 years. Which, he has since clarified, doesn’t mean forever.

THE COMPANY HE KEEPS:
In his 2000 campaign for President, he wanted nothing to do with Henry Kissinger, because he didn’t want to ‘taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’ Today, Kissinger is an honorary cochair of his New York presidential campaign. McCain considered Jerry Falwell to be an agent of intolerance before 9/11. After 9/11, as Falwell was blaming America for 9/11 and specifically ‘abortionists,’ McCain and Falwell became friends, bonded by their shared values. He considered some of the people who financed W’s campaign in 2000 of using dirty money, but those same people are welcome in his campaign, as long I suppose as they bring their dirty money in with them.

ETC.: I could keep going. He was for legislation against global warming, now he’s against legislation (does that make him ‘for’ global warming?). He’s changed his position on the NRA and guns. He’s changed his position on warrantless wiretapping. He’s changed his position on Cuba, on the storage of nuclear waste in Nevada, and on and on and on. You could even say he flip flopped on who he wanted as his wife. I won’t, but you could. If you want. Unless you’re against that kind of thing.  Because what you’re experiencing right now is called cognitive dissonance, a fairly unpleasant experience that is particularly non-persuasive.

Parsed out one issue at a time, it takes a while for the pattern to emerge. When you put it all together, the pattern of it is obvious. What pattern? Flipfloppery.

My next blog post will examine the flip floppery of Barack Obama. The one after that will talk about the persuasive impact of inconsistency. On Monday. Or in a week. Well, we’ll see. Won’t we?
Meanwhile, what do you think about candidates who change positions? Is it, as McCain’s spokesman likes to think of it, an ‘evolution’ of opinion or is it indicative of something else?

be well,
Rick

The Communication Tune Up teleseminar takes place in five one-hour sessions over two months, beginning on July 29. Between now and then, there are two free previews left. Visit CommunicationTuneUP.com for details.

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