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June 23, 2008

Forget John Kerry, the Real Flip-Flopper is Barack Obama


John Kerry did not need to try very hard to be defined as a flip-flopper during the 2004 elections. “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” Kerry said in one video clip that was so often repeated that the statement arguably became Kerry’s most famous.


But despite Kerry’s serious and continuous flip-flops, it is almost regrettable that the term “flip-flopper” was so extensively applied to him. This is because one presidential candidate has been giving Kerry a good run for his money in pursuing the flip-flopper prize, and using the same line of attacks against him could be dismissed by the electorate as repetitive. Appropriately, this new flip-flopper is none other than the candidate of “change” himself, Barack Obama.


In John Kerry’s defense, he had been a senator for two decades before he entered the race for the top job, and thus had plenty of time to take every position on every issue. Barack Obama, on the other hand, had two years. If you can manage to compete with Kerry for the Flip-Flopper Award with this little time in office, you got something going for you.


Indeed, what follows are only a handful of the numerous situations on which Obama has so far managed to change his position within months, weeks or even days:


Public financing: Only months ago, Barack Obama pledged that he would embrace public financing of his campaign if his Republican opponent did as well (crash course for those who don’t know what public financing is – it is essentially the option of taking a limited amount of campaign money from the government and abiding by its spending limits; the alternative would be raising and spending an unlimited amount of private money).


Specifically, Obama wrote: “Sen. John McCain has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”


That’s nice, except that Barack Obama has just rejected public financing of his campaign, even though John McCain has accepted it. So what happened?


First, when Obama made this pledge, John McCain was so far behind in the Republican primary polls that the Obama campaign had written him off completely. Obama figured that any other Republican nominee would reject public financing with the intention of raising more money than the limit allows. And second, Obama underestimated his own fundraising abilities, not to mention that he probably did not expect to become the Democratic nominee this year.


In other words, Obama only did the “civic” thing and made his pledge because he didn’t think he would even be in a position to have to keep it. But now that he is in such a position, he goes back on his word. He is absolutely no better or more ethical than any other politician.


Jeremiah Wright: In the March 18, 2008 “greatest speech ever,” which made media-types and starry-eyed Obama fans swoon, Obama proudly and firmly declared: “I can no more disown [Reverend Jeremiah Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother.”


A few weeks later, Obama disowned Jeremiah Wright for doing something absolutely no different than what he had been doing during the 20 years of Obama’s mentoring. Memo to the black community and to Obama’s grandmother: The second you become politically inconvenient, you are totally disownable.


Taxes: Between 2000 and 2004, Barack and Michelle Obama were making an average of $240,000 per year, and gave less than one percent of it to charity. The Obamas say that this is because they were a young couple still managing student loans. Indeed, this is perfectly reasonable. As his book revenues kicked in and he became a millionaire, however, Obama found himself qualified to say: “once people are making over $200,000 to $250,000 they can afford to pay a little more in payroll tax.”


Wait – so, average Americans “can afford” to pay higher taxes when making the same level of income at which the Obamas could not afford to give away even one percent to charity? It only makes sense after the Obamas become millionaires, apparently.


Flippity flop flop.


Barack Obama has been extremely lucky to receive the Democratic nomination on his first try. Already, he has made John Kerry look like a straight shooter by accumulating a mountain of flip-flops, only a few of which can be written about at any one time. One can only imagine what his record will look like four years from now.

© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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