Friday, April 27, 2012

Who's Flip-Flopping Now?

A long time ago, I wrote about a politician's prerogative to change his mind about a position, based on new knowledge the politician may have acquired. I never mentioned Mitt Romney by name, because I think that all politicians (and all people) should have that right: the right to think new thoughts, to keep an open mind, and to adopt new ideas.

Many Republicans wouldn't give Romney that right. They insisted that once he stated his position on an issue, he must stick with that opinion forever, unchanging. When he did change his mind on an issue, they said he was doing so for purely political reasons, and they called it "flip-flopping." Mitt has been accused of being a flip-flopper since he first aspired to the presidency in 2007.

This has been a particularly bitter and divisive campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Attacks and negativity ruled the airwaves and the Internet. Now that Mitt Romney has the nomination all but sewn up, party leaders are suddenly aware of the need for unity. A divided Republican party has no chance of winning the presidential election this November.

So let's see what one former presidential candidate and one prominent Republican are saying about Romney.

First, Newt Gingrich, just four days ago:  "I think it's a very substantial mistake for Governor Romney to be pretending these primaries aren't occurring and for him to be having quote a general election speech tonight in New Hampshire. He's the frontrunner but he's not the nominee."

Now, Newt Gingrich, shortly after he announced he's giving up: "I do think it's pretty clear that Governor Romney is ultimately going to be the nominee and we're gonna do everything we can make sure that he is in fact effective. And we as a team will be effective in winning this fall."

(As an aside, I think it's kind of funny that Gingrich is offering his services to "do everything we can [to] make sure that he is in fact effective." Yeah. He spent months torpedoing his own campaign, and now he wants to help Romney. I think that a "Thanks but no thanks; go back to your professorship now" would me more likely. Gingrich's help on the general campaign, like Donald Trump's public endorsement, is more a liability than an asset.)

Second, Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and a one-time presidential candidate in his own right. A few months ago, stumping for one of the other GOP hopefuls, Giuliani had this to say about Romney: "I have never seen a guy - and I've run in a lot of elections, supported a lot of people, opposed them - never seen a guy change his positions on so many things, so fast, on a dime. Everything."

Did you catch that? "Everything." And "never seen a guy." Rudy Giuliani really didn't like Mitt Romney. There was no room in his mind for any candidate to be worse than Romney. Now, contrast that with what he said this week: "I'm proud to support Mitt Romney and encourage all those who worry about our country's future to do the same."

(Another aside: Doesn't it seem to you that Giuliani changed his position rather fast - on a dime, even? He went from "never" to bootlicking in the blink of an eye.)

Who's flip-flopping now, boys?

We know why Newt and Rudy did it. It's called "business as usual." Or "politics," if you prefer.

(I got these quotations from Samara Mackareth's Politically Foul column.)

UPDATE, MAY 3: Today we can add Michele Bachman to the list of flip-floppers. She was one of his loudest opponents, even after she dropped out of the primaries in January. I think it was in January that she said there was "no way" Mitt Romney could beat Barack Obama in a general election. It took months of behind-the-scenes negotiating (in her words, "working behind the scenes, bringing together all factions of our party"), but today she publicly endorsed Romney's nomination.

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