Monday, July 6, 2009

When Changing Your Mind Means You're A Big Fat Liar


When changing your mind means you are a big fat liar.

John Kerry had a number of problems as a candidate for President. However, the largest nail in that coffin was the accusations of "flip-flopping." Did Senator Kerry change positions on issues for political convenience? Some felt that he did and it may have cost him on Election Day. As such maneuvering should. It has become almost commonplace for politicians to say whatever they believe will get them elected. Some candidates, Mitt Romney in my opinion, do this so blatantly one has to believe his supporters have been hypnotized. However, it seems that once this was perceived to have prevented Kerry from claiming the presidency every change of thought or policy seems to bring about accusations that the candidate is a "flip-flopper."

First of all, I am against the unnecessary "verbing" of a word. Especially if it is a word for shower shoes. The media, being what it is, oversimplifies and likes catchy phrases that fit well into a sound bite or headline: "Politician weighs issues and changes mind after meeting with advisers and voters," always loses to "Politician Flip-flops on issue." It poses quite a threat to the type of people we find successful in politics. To make it an unforgivable sin to change one's mind will only leave us with those unwilling to change his or her minds. That type of absolutism has always led to peril. And I again remind you, it's not really a word.

This week, countless hours of television and radio have been spent discussing the ramifications of Senator Obama using the words "refine my policies." Now, even though the proceeding word was "continue" implying that this is something that he has been doing since posting his
Blueprint for America on his website. It was viewed as the beginning of a drastic change in his position on the war, the flip that precedes the inevitable flop. Personally, I cringed every time I have heard a candidate give a definite timetable for troop withdrawal. Not because I believe it is to be surrender or that it will allow our enemies to merely lie low until that time, but by not being afraid to change plans often reveals the multiple paths to success. With the FISA vote impending and his recent reversal on public financing there is enough there to frame a good story.

Abraham Lincoln flip-flopped on slavery. He was willing to change his position on it where it existed already to avoid civil war. Ultimately, he held fast to his principles and realized how important it was to the survival of this country to end this evil practice. In today's world, he would be eaten alive by the press for such a move. The ability of a leader to change his or her mind when it is for the best of the people he or she leads is typically a defining moment. How it is defined is important, and to limit a president's ability to change his or her mind is a dangerous move.

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