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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Saturday, July 12, 2008


The wonderful flip-flops of John McCain

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, July 12, 2008 permalink View blog reactions

Flip Flops on the River

Originally uploaded by Stuck in Customs

Daily Kos diarist DaveFromQueens has compiled a list of 50 flip flops of John McCain, on the topics:

Privatizing Social Security, Iraq Troop Withdrawal, Tax Cuts, Judges, Torture, Negotiating With Hamas, Bush Third Term, Agents Of Intolerance, 527s, Gramm's Whiner Comments, Economic Expertise, Illegal Wiretapping, Habeas Corpus, Everglades Restoration, Gay Couple Legal Contracts, GI Bill, Military Service Exploitation, Roe v. Wade, States Rights On Abortion, ANWR, Offshore Drilling, Role of States in Drilling, MLK Holiday, Windfall Profits Tax, Filibustering of Judges, Confederate Flag, Civil Unions, Constitutional Ban On Gay Marriage, Yucca Mountain, Undue Lobbyist Influence, Abortion Exceptions, Defense Cuts, Waterboarding Mandatory Caps, Citizenship for Immigrants, Flying the Confederate Flag, Bush Tax Policies, South African Divestment, Alternative Minimum Tax, Estate Tax Repeal, NOrth Korea Negotiations, Iraq + Stay The Course, Creationism, Time of Offshore Drilling, Campaign Finance Reform, Immigration Act, Fidel Castro, Pakistan, Bush's Pioneers, Occupying Muslim Lands.

(more details on each at the diary). One gripe with his list that I have is that there aren't any supporting links, however. The evidence is out there but what would make this a great resource would be to add direct source material on each topic - for example some of the great videos on You Tube of late, such as:


Fortunately, Steve Benen also offers a list of 61 flip-flops, and this one is heavily documented with links. Benen notes that there's a new meme in the media that (only John McCain's) flip-flops don't matter, and refutes it pretty thoroughly. The vast majority of McCain's flip-flops are political calculations rather than genuine changes of heart:

Most of the flip-flops, though, show McCain dropping his centrist/moderate credentials in order to be more in line with today’s Republican mainstream. Tax cuts, foreign policy, immigration, abortion, the religious right, the environment, detainee policy, campaign finance reform. In every instance, McCain was a “maverick,” willing to break with his party. Now, he isn’t. The perception people have of McCain is outdated, reflective of a man who no longer has any use for his previous persona.

What’s wrong with a politician who changes his or her views? Nothing in particular, but when a politician changes his views so much that he has an entirely different worldview, and that new worldview is conveniently necessary to win his party’s presidential nomination, is it unreasonable to wonder whether it’s entirely sincere? Especially when there’s no other apparent explanation for four dozen significant reversals?

What’s wrong with political leaders simply saying they’ve had a change of heart? Nothing, just so long as it’s genuine. Given the circumstances, one would have to be hopelessly naive to think McCain, all of a sudden, out of the blue, just happened to reinvent himself and his policy agenda based on nothing more than a simple “change of heart.”

Naturally, McCain's strategy towards Obama is to paint him as a flip-flopper. As Obama might say, "bring it on."

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.