Politics is politics, people will do whatever they have to do to get elected. The 2008 election is no different from any other one. My estimation is, is that the only two Presidents not to “flip-flop” in a campaign were George Washington and John Adams. Why? because they didn’t campaign. So why do we make such a big deal about flip-flopping?
Now let it be known, that I railed on Kerry for flip-flopping, so I probably sound like a hypocrite. Fine, say what you will, but at least none of the Republicans have said “I voted for it before I voted against it” and the Republicans are at least sticking to their new found positions, something Kerry failed to do.
Hugh Hewitt, a confessed Romney apologist (me too, by the way), wrote an article precisely about this. He makes some intriguing points that we should consider:
It’s easy to turn a blind eye if someone’s flip-flopping in my direction, but that’s not it. Rather, it’s that at some point, you’ve gotta dance with the ones that brung ya. Said another way, the positions Romney et al. (Giuliani, Thompson. McCain) are taking now, in the most important campaign of their lives, are the ones they’re stuck with — whether they like it or not.After his public conversion and being pilloried as a flip-flopper, do you seriously think that Romney can walk back his pro-life positionwithout destroying himself? Does anyone actually think that Romney would be so stupid as to advance public funding of elections after running as the enemy of BCRA? If Romney runs and manages to get elected as a conservative, why would he revert to a non-winning position?
If you look at history, how candidates run — regardless of what they believed earlier in their career — is how they govern once they win. Conservatives may feel betrayed by George W. Bush but his campaigns were stellar examples of truth-in-advertising. Remember, he got elected as a different kind of Republican who was pro-immigrant and who was more concerned about taxes than spending. How Bush governed is exactly how he ran, except maybe for the nation-building thing (and there was a pretty big change in circumstances there.)
Slippery as he was, Clinton ran as a Third Way Democrat and governed that way.Bush the Father was the mixed bag we expected him to be. Once he became pro-life, he stayed pro-life. But no one expected him to be Ronald Reagan (“kinder, gentler nation”) and he wasn’t. And what you saw was what you got in Ronaldus Maximus.
Apparently they all flip-flopped or changed their views to fit those whom they were courting. Ideal? No, but hopefully they are at least changing their positions to fit ours. It is an excellent point that Hewitt makes that the candidates governed as they campaigned, and that is really what is important. For we pro-lifers, I would rather have someone who once was pro-choice, now says they are pro-life to get elected, and governs and appoints judges as a pro-lifer than I would a Giuliani who was pro-choice, is still pro-choice, and will govern pro-choice. More from Hewitt:
And does authenticity still matter? Yes, it does. But at some point, your basic positioning on issues has to matter too. And primary voters have a right to evaluate that.
We need to start thinking of this imperfect field not as a problem, but as an opportunity. Conservatives, these guys need you. They can’t take a single vote for granted. You should be forcing them to take positions that are more to your liking, because they won’t be able to live them down after running (and hopefully winning) on them.
Amen to that.