finally someone said it:
how can people who inveigh against Mitt Romney for changing his positions excuse Huckabee doing it without a peep — especially when, unlike Romney, he’s lacked the honesty simply to admit he was wrong about some things? [source: carol liebau]
you can say the same thing about the other candidates — both democrat and republican — yet only mitt romney is labeled “flip flopper.”
a little background: the reason “flip flopper” became such a damning charge in the first place was because of john kerry, a man who defined his candidacy by changing positions on issues. in the 2004 presidential race, he wanted to have it both ways on the iraq war, claiming, “i voted for [the $87 billion to fund the troops] before i voted against it” (as if this somehow was admirable). mitt romney does not do this. the only candidates who do this today are john mccain and mike huckabee, which will become cringefully obvious if you continue reading this post. the problem with flip-flopping is not that a candidate has evolved, or that he has changed his mind. the frightening thing is when their positions seem to be in constant flux. cue mike huckabee and john mccain. click to visit the encyclopedia of mccain flip-flops for a condensed summary. somewhat selective treatment follows in this post.
immigration. mccain made his immigration flip during the current campaign, after his quasi-amnesty bill was rejected resoundingly by the american people. now he says he will “secure the border first” (before granting 10 million-plus illegal immigrants amnesty?). yet his campaign employs juan hernandez, an open borders advocate who calls the USA and mexico “a region” rather than two countries. he told tim russert on meet the press he would sign his own amnesty bill if he were president and the bill came to his desk. then just days later, he refused to answer the question in a debate.
jobs. in michigan, mccain flipped from one day to the next on whether factory jobs were doomed or if they could be retained. in south carolina, he told americans they would all need to be retrained, whether they were 30 or 50. the following day, he told people factories were still viable in america.
more mccain flip flops (some just minutes apart) on the iraq war, gay marriage, the confederate flag, the religious right, in this damning video about “the double-talk express”
and rocky mountain news: mccain’s the real flip-flopper. the reporter, having examined the news databases, notes:
[I]n the national media, Romney is at least six times more likely to be described as a flip-flopper than McCain.
This does not merely ignore but actually inverts the truth. The fact is that no presidential candidate in either party has flip-flopped as egregiously as McCain on such a wide range of issues.
update, 2/17/08: see also this editorial.
It’s indisputable that Romney changed positions on two issues – abortion and gun rights. Romney readily admits to the reversal on abortion. On gun rights, instead of calling it a flip-flop, it would be more accurate to say that Romney is guilty of exaggerating his relationship with guns and the gun crowd. From a policy perspective nothing changed. He supported and continues to support controls like the Brady Bill and bans on unnecessarily powerful assault weapons.
And that’s it for Romney’s flip-flops, making a grand total of one-and-one-half….
In terms of sheer numbers, McCain makes Romney look like a flip-flop novice….
Given the limited extent of Romney’s changing views, McCain’s charges were outrageous. His deceitful branding of Romney should have been exposed but wasn’t. To the contrary, most “journalists” joined-in, repeating and amplifying the charges from the man they almost always referred to on-air and in-print as the “straight talking John McCain.” Such favorable media branding for McCain left the impression that if it came from St. John’s mouth it must be true.
The press did get one thing right though. There is a Republican candidate who would say or do anything to get elected. And he’s now the presumptive nominee.
huckabee has changed on a whole host of issues, from public benefits for illegal aliens
mostly recently, during the campaign season, huckabee has completely switched his views on illegal immigration, a national smoking ban, the confederate flag, cuba, and whether or not to run a positive or negative campaign. again, these are changes he has made in his positions just in the last few weeks, not years ago like mitt romney.
here are mitt’s positions on the issues in 1994.
notice, from this list, he’s changed one position (for the better). compare that to the rest of the remaining primary field, and you see romney is the clear, consistent conservative in the race.
also on hannity and colmes recently, mitt was charged with being “biggest flip-flopper that we have seen run for national office, probably in american political history.” sadly, this claim, raised by democrat rich masters, went unchallenged either by sean hannity or the conservative guest on the panel, kate obenshain.
ALAN COLMES: They’ve misrepresented, Mitt did, her health-care plan.
RICH MASTERS: Yes. Really shocking. I mean, you know — I mean, basically Mitt Romney proposed exactly in Massachusetts some of those exact same things that Hillary Clinton is proposing now. And now all of a sudden, you know, he’s flip-flopped, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. I mean, this guy is clearly the biggest flip-flopper that we have seen run for national office, probably in American political history.
COLMES: He’d be an easier candidate to beat than John McCain, probably….Let’s take a look at this McCain ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Massachusetts governor, Romney refused to take a position on the Bush tax cut and then increased taxes by $700 million but tried to call them fees. Where does Mitt Romney stand? Whichever way the wind blows.
first, that number is incorrect. it was $245 million. and since when are conservatives opposed to fees? as doug pointed out to me the other day, there is no more libertarian idea than to charge users who actually use services, while leaving the rest of the people alone with their money. this is the difference between a fee and a tax: those who do not use the service do not have the government confiscate and redistribute their money broadly and arbitrarily.
second, the outrageous flip-flopper claim: romney criticized hillary’s plan because it would provide government health care to 47 million people. romney’s plan sought to use the free market to provide health care to the uninsured, and assist the poor with paying their premiums where necessary, not pay their hospital bills, which the state would have paid anyway if there were no plan in place. so denouncing her plan is not “flipping” by any stretch of the word.
at the end of this comparative analysis, given the overwhelming perception that mitt romney is the flip-flopper in this race and no one else; and given that this perception was created and is perpetuated by journalists and political commentators in the national news media; we must conclude one of three things is the case:
(1) members of the news media have been lying to us for some reason.
(2) members of the news media have been too lazy to attempt to verify the claim that mitt romney is somehow the only candidate to have changed positions on issues.
(3) members of the news media are easily duped by liberal politicians.