The readers over at Kos have been collecting a list of Bush flip-flops to counter the claims that Kerry flip-flops. Flip-flopping always strikes me as a fairly disingenuous accusation. In reality, someone who never changes their mind, regardless of the emergence of new evidence, changed circumstances, or their own growing experience, strikes me as just plain scary. Of course the point of such an accusation is to create the impression that the opposition is a unprincipled opportunist or a flake who unthinkingly repeats the last thing he or she heard.
That said, I have to say I like this list, and not just because Bush is the subject. I think in this case, it’s a good tactic. As a counter tactic it’s good to be able to match annoying coworkers, relatives, and talk-radio listeners point for point when they start repeating RNC talking points about Kerry’s lack of character.
But more importantly, Bush’s people have always portrayed him as a man of steadiness and firm moral grounding. For a long time the public has bought this line. The perception of Bush as a “man of character” was one of the two main supports for his general approval numbers when his approval numbers on specific issues were always lower—often far lower (the other support was the rally around the wartime leader instinct). If we can undermine him on the character issue and show him as the callow frat boy that he is, Kerry will be the next president.
- Bush is against campaign finance reform; then he's for it.
- Bush is against a Homeland Security Department; then he's for it.
- Bush is against a 9/11 commission; then he's for it.
- Bush is against an Iraq WMD investigation; then he's for it.
- Bush is against nation building; then he's for it.
- Bush is against deficits; then he's for them.
- Bush is for free trade; then he's for tariffs on steel; then he's against them again.
- Bush is against the U.S. taking a role in the Israeli Palestinian conflict; then he pushes for a "road map" and a Palestinian State.
- Bush is for states right to decide on gay marriage, then he is for changing the constitution.
- Bush first says he'll provide money for first responders (fire, police, emergency), then he doesn't.
- Bush first says that 'help is on the way' to the military ... then he cuts benefits
This is just the beginning of the list. It would be nice if someone did an annotation of the top dozen points or so.