During the 2004 presidential campaign, you could buy a pair of flip-flop sandals bearing the image of John Kerry. The product was a droll dig at the Democratic nominee’s penchant for changing his positions — on the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, NAFTA and more. The senator didn’t help himself with a line about funding to rebuild Iraq: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

Republicans — and some Democrats — may now be wondering what size flip-flops to order for Joe Biden. He provoked a hail of criticism within his party by saying he supported the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, except in case of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life.

Biden’s position was an old one, going back to that forgotten era when Democrats comfortably tolerated dissent on abortion. Sensing serious trouble, he soon did an about-face, stating, “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”

A sudden reversal on a major issue under heavy pressure can be taken as a symptom of spinelessness. It can also be taken as a shrewd recognition of campaign realities, or even as a welcome sign of open-mindedness on policy. Just about all politicians change their positions on some things sooner or later.

Sanders voted against federal background checks in 1993, but in 2016 he embraced requiring them for all firearm purchases. Gillibrand got an “A” from the National Rifle Association when she was representing an upstate New York district in the House but an “F” in the Senate. Harris, who opposed legalization of recreational marijuana as attorney general of California, supports it now.

None of these switches should be taken as disqualifying. When public opinion changes — on gun control, pot or anything else — elected officials and candidates have an obligation to take notice, both as a demonstration of intellectual humility and in deference to the need to stay in step with constituents.

Republicans are hardly immune to this temptation. Donald Trump used to favor abortion rights and a ban on “assault weapons,” neither of which he supports now. Mitt Romney pounded Barack Obama for a federal health care program that was based on the Massachusetts program created under a governor named … Mitt Romney.

If pressed, Biden and others can always fall back on the wisdom of Winston Churchill, who switched parties not once but twice and exhibited no regrets. “Those who never change their minds,” he declared, “never change anything.”

— Chicago Tribune


(1) comment


When it comes to so called flip-floppng no one can beat the draft dodging coward currently squatting in our White House. Just look at this list of filp-flops on the promises he made - 1) He promised Mexico would pay for the wall, but now wants to saddle the American taxpayers with an expensive (well over $5 billion) ego edifice wall that will solve nothing, outside of proving yet again that walls don’t work. . 2) He promised he would replace the ACA – called Obamacare by the intellectually stunted - and it would cost us less and cover more people. However insurance companies are telling us with the abandonment of the individual mandate, rates are already increasing by 30% to 40% per year and will cover fewer people. 3) He promised he would release his taxes after he took office. He hasn't yet released them and is threatening to “sue Congress” to prevent the American people seeing the truth. What is he hiding? 4) He promised he would solve our trade deficit. After launching his trade wars, our trade deficit surged to an all time high. 5) He promised he would solve the budget deficit. Instead it has already doubled under his so-called leadership. 6) He promised us a better deal with Iran. But under the "new Trump deal" Iran can pursue nukes TODAY. And now he is lying (no surprise there) in hopes of leading us into yet another war.

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