Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 2004 / 9 Tishrei, 5765
Fallacious flip-flop flummery
Ironically, the person who has benefited most from John Kerry's reputation for flip-flopping is John Kerry himself, because he's not so much a flip-flopper as a fundamentally dishonest person, which his reputation for flip-flopping tends to conceal.
Of course Democrats and the partisan media prefer to euphemize Kerry's frenetic policy changes, citing them as evidence of his mental acuity. He's not a flipper, but a genius. But if they really believed his flips were something to celebrate, they wouldn't have made such a colossal deal of his recent Iraq speech in New York.
Kerry made major news that day simply for stating his position on Iraq less equivocally than he's been willing to do in the past. All of his supporters expressed a collective sigh of relief that he'd finally arrived at a position that would substantively distinguish him from President Bush on Iraq. The partisan media looked on wistfully as John Kerry finally said, "No, I wouldn't have gone to Iraq… America is not safer than it was before Saddam's removal. Bush is a lying scumbag … blah, blah, blah."
Nevertheless, liberals continue the charade that Kerry's customary refusal to stick with a position is a positive. Not long ago, a liberal elitist columnist spent his entire 700 words laboring to recast Kerry's embarrassing self-contradictions as the product of an enlightened thinker poised for leadership. Another suggested that Kerry's 180s show admirable flexibility in a man who is willing to examine new evidence and adapt to changing circumstances. Others have said that Kerry's flops flow from his sophistication, complexity and ability to appreciate "nuance."
Comedy Central's Jon Stewart told Katie Couric that efforts to paint Kerry as a flip-flopper are "silly" and "not really the case." I agree with Stewart that these efforts to paint Kerry as a flip-flopper are silly, though not in the sense he surely means it, but rather in that they trivialize a deeper flaw in Kerry. That is, when Republicans characterize Kerry as a flip-flopper, they leave the impression that he's merely wishy-washy, irresolute and indecisive.
While he certainly changes his positions almost as often as he takes a stance, I don't think his flips are a result of changes of heart, but the cold political calculations of a dangerously opportunistic customer. (If he truly changed his mind as often as he changes his positions, we'd have conclusive evidence of his mental instability.) Kerry knows exactly what he believes, but often can't afford to be honest about it. But it is his real beliefs more than his vintage vacillations that scare me the most.
There's a big difference between changing your mind to accommodate changed circumstances and reconsidering a position due to a change in the direction of the political winds. I don't have the space or patience to rehash all of Kerry's changed policies on Iraq, culminating in his confession to David Letterman that if he were president, we would not be in Iraq. But I am confident that none of his flips were a result of thoughtfulness, or even of indecisiveness, but raw political expedience.
I have no idea if John Kerry truly ponders issues carefully and deliberately, Perhaps he does in contemplating his next checkers move. But frankly, on policy decisions, it's hard to envision him weighing anything other than their potential impact on his political fortunes, because at his core, John Kerry is plainly a narcissist.
All indications are that John Kerry is not a deliberative, thoughtful guy. Do you remember his reaction to the publication of the 9/11 Commission report? He was so anxious to use that report as a weapon against President Bush that he advocated adopting all of its recommendations before he'd even had time to read it heck, before Evelyn Wood would have had time to speed read it.
I was struck by the sheer irresponsibility of Kerry's precipitous pronouncement on the report. No serious person could claim that his headlong "lurch" to embrace the commission's recommendations was born of nuance, complexity, thoughtfulness, deliberation, flexibility or leadership. It was abject, reckless political posturing.
And when President Bush refused to uncritically and immediately ratify every syllable in the report, he was hardly hailed by the phony nuance idolaters for his thoughtfulness. Indeed enormous political pressure was brought to bear on Bush to throw all caution and leadership to the wind, and he stood his ground.
The partisan media aren't interested in thoughtfulness or nuance, but in portraying John Kerry in the most favorable light. Given the nature of the man, they have their work cut out for them.
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