Change is Good

In his Slate article today, William Saletan gives his take on the GOP argument that Bush is a good president because he "stands firm":
I'm no huge fan of John Kerry. He sees two sides of every one-sided issue, and four sides of every two-sided issue. But the alternative is a president who sees one side of every issue, no matter how many sides it has. Given the how many sides there usually are, and given how little effort Bush makes to learn about each issue, the odds are that, on average, he'll pick the wrong side. The record of the last four years shows that he has done precisely that. But because Bush refuses to "waver," as Schwarzenegger charitably puts it, we keep going in the wrong direction. The only way to stop such a president is to vote him out of office. Fortunately, an election is coming.
I mostly agree with Saletan, although I think by making this statement he admits to buying into the Republican illusion that Bush never changes his mind. This isn't true. Bush has actually wavered - or as the GOP would say "waffled" - on many issues (such as his opposition to the creation of a Homeland Security Office and a 9/11 Commission). Where the "never changes" illusion comes in is after wavering, he acts as if his new stance has always been his stance. Change, to him, is bad. Often the only time he "stands firm" is when the stars align and the far-right and some bizarre poll results agree with his stance (like when he continually implied that Iraq had something to do with 9/11). Unfortunately, important issues such as going to war and same-sex marriage are being decided on quite loopy poll results and the always loopy far-right.

Kerry may not be the best at expressing this, but many of his so-called "flip-flops" come after situations have changed. The 50-cent gas tax was a good idea 10 years ago when he proposed it but it's not a good idea now, so he's no longer for it. "No Child Left Behind" sounded great when he voted for it and now that Bush has failed to fund it Kerry is rightfully against it. These aren't flip-flops, or taking every side of the issue, but changes in position after thoughtful and careful analysis of the issues as they stand now, and I have no problem with that.

Update: Slate writer Chris Suellentrop gives more examples of Bush's lack of stubbornness:
The biggest fib the president says on the stump is, "When I say something, I mean it." Did he mean it when he said that no matter what the whip count, he would ask for a second vote at the Security Council before going to war with Iraq? Did he mean it when he was against a Department of Homeland Security? Did he mean it when he opposed the creation of a 9/11 commission? Did he mean it when he opposed McCain-Feingold? Did he mean it when he said troops shouldn't be used for nation-building? Did he mean it when he said he planned to use his presidency to strengthen international alliances? Does he mean it when he says, "It's the people's money, not the government's money"? If so, then why does he spend so much of it?
That list doesn't even include the recent "We can't win this war"/ "We can win this war" flip.


Post a Comment

<< Home