The Art of the Political Flip-Flop

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Newt Gingrich was for health care mandates before he was against them. Rick Perry was for allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest before he was not. And Mitt Romney has changed his positions on climate change, health care, abortion, and gay rights, just to name a few. In 2004, the caricature of John Kerry as a "flip-flopper" partly cost him the presidential election. Although flip-flopping is almost universally portrayed as negative, these changes of heart sometimes reveal an evolution of ideals and maturity. "When the facts change, I change my mind," John Maynard Keyes once said. "What do you do, sir?"

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses some of the most notorious instances of flip-flopping, and how they were used against candidates.

Comments [5]


At the last moments of the interview the President is finally mentioned and the response is "..that just looks like failed leadership". Ouch.

Dec. 29 2011 12:58 PM

I meant to include this link in my previous comment; on the vastness of Obama's comprehensive flip on national security and the treatment of detainees in the war on terror. From today's Wall Street Journal Editorial page:

Dec. 29 2011 11:07 AM


I had a feeling, listening to the teasers for this segment, that all the focus would be on the GOP cnadidates' propensity for flipping on the issues. And at the same time, I suspected that The Takeaway's Obama Campaign Unit would overlook all of Dear President's reversals. I was right, sort of. In fact, it was worse than that.

Obama, it seems, hasn't really "flipped" on issues. He's merely been prevented from fulfilling his campaign promises. Have I got that right? Do I go to the head of The Takeaway class?

Oops. There is the matter of Senator Barack Obama's having voted against Bush judicial nominees, whereas President Barack Obama griped about his own nominees getting held up in the Senate.

And there's the matter of a vast array of national security policies that Candidate Obama used to bludgeon Republicans in 2008, only to affirm them in practice in 2009-11.

I honestly don't mind that Obama is a flip-flopper. What I expected from him, was that he'd be a one-term far-left Democrat. He is that, of course; and I won't be voting for him in 2012. I'm certain that a majority of the electorate won't be voting for him in 2012. And that doesn't depend on Obama being a flip-flopper or not. What Obama HASN'T flipped on, is enough for me to oppose him.

Dec. 29 2011 10:41 AM
Doc from Pittsburgh, PA

I was an avid deregulation supporter starting before the Reagan era. However after seeing the dismantling of our rail system, and directly experiencing the degradation of airline transportation, I realized what deregulation really means. I at first thought that deregulation would allow more start-ups and healthy competition. Instead I have seen that the result is that it really means that the most wealthy individuals and corporations can drive the smaller companies out of business. The efficient meshing of the various facets of our transportation, and financial infrastructure disappears and is replaced by systems that are managed solely for the benefit of the owners of the massive corporate structures without regard for the population as a whole. I changed my mind when I saw the fall in the general standard of living for the middle class, and the finical disasters caused by what can only be called unbridled corporate greed. Since it has become so apparent that people running the fewer, larger businesses created since deregulation don't do "the right thing," there needs to be government regulations to insure that they act in ways that are good for the nation as a whole.

Dec. 29 2011 09:48 AM
Haley from Detroit

I commend Ron Paul in his consistency - At times I almost feel he is the most reliable candidate - However, the racist/homophobic content published in his newsletters holds me back from wanting to give him any support. While he insists he knows nothing about who wrote the offensive, hateful content, I have a hard time believing in somehow squeaked past him without his approval.

Dec. 29 2011 08:41 AM

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