You wake up and see a shadow above your bed. Thinking a burglar has broken into your room, you reach for your .50 caliber Glock automatic. Just before you blow the intruder to smithereens, the headlights from a passing car reveal the face of your spouse.
Question: Would you still pull the trigger?
Why, you flip-flopper you!
That’s the kind of thinking that prevails in American politics. Once a politician adopts a position he or she is stuck with it forever. No new information, however startling, must be taken into account. To change your mind is fatal. You are branded a flip-flopper.
Of course, you know that’s ignorant. And I know that’s ignorant. But American political pundits think that’s perfectly logical.
I flip-flop all the time. I decide to wear a comfortable pair of khaki slacks and find there’s a hole in the seat, so I switch to the navy blue pair with no hole. I taste a mouthful of milk and find it has gone sour, so I flip-flop and spit it out. I decide to drive the Intrigue to the post office and it doesn’t start, so I use Sandra’s Escort.
Obviously, I can’t be trusted. I’m a flip-flopper.
George Bush didn’t flip-flop when he decided to invade Iraq because he thought Sadam Hussein might have weapons of mass destruction. No sir, even when it became obvious from the available intelligence that there were no such weapons in Iraq, G. W. went right ahead and blew the place to kingdom come.
Bush didn’t flip-flop then, and look where it got us. And John McCain insists he isn’t going to flip-flop now. He says he is deeply troubled by Barack Obama’s change of heart on the topic of campaign financing. You see, Obama once responded to a questionnaire by saying he would try to negotiate a deal with his presidential opponent in which both would depend on government funding for their campaigns. Turns out that such a deal would have been disastrous. So Obama flip-flopped. He plans to go right on accepting donations from the public.
Several new developments contributed to Obama’s flip-flop. He found he could raise more money on the Internet. And to carry out the Democratic Party’s 50-state strategy, he will need a lot more than the $84 million available from taxpayers. Also. his opponent (who co-authored the campaign finance law) had found a loophole in it (you think he might have put it there?) and was “gaming” the system. He was able to use his multimillionaire wife’s jet for free during the primaries, for example, although he wasn’t supposed to be taking “private contributions.”
Meanwhile, the Republican Party was building a huge war chest with which to support McCain’s campaign. And the so-called “527 groups” (like the one that created the venomous Swiftboat commercial) were getting ready to roll out their big guns. Naturally, those would not count as “private contributions” under the law McCain co-sponsored.
As McCain vacillated from day to day about taking the government’s money for his general election campaign, it became obvious that Obama would fall into a trap if he stuck to his plan. So he “manned up” and said no to public financing.
The pundits are having a field day. Obama “broke his word,” they charge.
I find myself shouting at the TV set, “Hey guys, Obama did not give his word to anyone. He didn’t make a promise or a pledge. He responded to a questionnaire by describing what he planned to do at the time.”
But they can’t hear me, and when I try to send them comments on the Internet, they ignore me. They don’t even read my blogs. So, if you have access to any of those pundits, please let them know how I feel. And if you have some spare change in a drawer someplace, put it in an envelope and mail it to the Obama campaign. They’re going to need it.