McCain, Obama and Flip-Flops Redux

By Beacon Staff

During the 2004 presidential race, depictions emerged of Sen. John Kerry that proved detrimental to his campaign: “pre-9/11 mind-set;” “Massachusetts liberal;” “flip-flopper.” Whether fair, the latter may have been Pres. Bush’s most effective argument. I still remember a photo of a Bush supporter wearing a yellow flip-flop, with his head poking through a giant rubber sole, standing outside a Kerry campaign rally. Four years later, flip-flops are back. But the current presidential candidates can only hypocritically accuse the other of wearing them.

Both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have come under fire recently for blatantly changing their minds on a variety of issues. Conventional thinking says the candidates are slowly shifting right, which is common – especially among Democrats – when the presidential race hits the stretch run.

For example, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Washington D.C. gun ban was unconstitutional, Obama was mostly indifferent on the subject, saying it “provide[d] much-needed guidance.” He had previously argued that the ban was constitutional. This shift would have helped the GOP’s cause more if its own candidate hadn’t repeatedly changed his mind.

Once a staunch opponent of U.S. policy at Guantanamo Bay, McCain blasted a recent Supreme Court decision allowing detainees access to U.S. courts, calling it “one of the worst decisions in the history of the country.”

The BBC has strung together a useful list of flip-flops by both candidates on issues such as immigration, campaign finance and Iraq. But the senators can be excused for their perceived flakiness.

While Kerry was labeled the flip-flopper in 2004, Bush had plenty of his own. He claimed to shy from “nation building.” Yet his record certainly suggests otherwise. Flip-flops, after all, fit every politician.