Skip to comments.Both Candidates Often Shift Positions (AP Extreme BARFARAMA)
Posted on 09/12/2004 3:45:35 PM PDT by Colosis
Sun Sep 12, 7:08 AM ET
By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - While working relentlessly to portray Democratic Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) as a "flip-flopper," President Bush (news - web sites) has his own history of changing his position, from reversals on steel tariffs and "nation-building" to reasons for invading Iraq (news - web sites).
Most recently, Bush did an about-face on whether the proposed new director of national intelligence should have full budget-making powers as the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission recommended. Bush at first indicated no, then last week said yes.
Just as GOP efforts to question Kerry's military record in Vietnam helped revive nagging questions about Bush's service in the Air National Guard, the "flip flop" attacks on Kerry could boomerang against an incumbent running on his record and reputation as a straight talker.
"The guy who is the ultimate flip and flop is this sitting president," said Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record) of Delaware.
Yet so far Democratic efforts to paint Bush as "Flip-Flopper-in-Chief," as one Democratic news release put it, have not seemed to have had much impact on the race.
Republicans have been driving home their depiction of Kerry as a flip-flopper for months, in campaign ads, speeches and interviews. And polls suggest this line of attack is working.
Far more voters give Bush high marks for being decisive than they do Kerry. Three-fourths, 75 percent, in the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll said the president is decisive, up 7 percentage points from August, while 37 percent said Kerry is decisive, down 7 percentage points from a month ago.
Republican audiences chant "flip-flopper" when Kerry is mentioned, some political novelty stores are carrying flip-flop sandals bearing Kerry's picture, and the theme is reinforced by late-night comedians.
"Gee, I wonder if Bush will say the 'F' in John F. Kerry stands for flip-flop," said NBC's Jay Leno after Kerry last week suggested the "W" in George W. Bush stood for "wrong."
If he is a flip-flopper, Kerry has company.
_In 2000, Bush argued against new military entanglements and nation building. He's done both in Iraq.
_He opposed a Homeland Security Department, then embraced it.
_He opposed creation of an independent Sept. 11 commission, then supported it. He first refused to speak to its members, then agreed only if Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) came with him.
_Bush argued for free trade, then imposed three-year tariffs on steel imports in 2002, only to withdraw them after 21 months.
_Last month, he said he doubted the war on terror could be won, then reversed himself to say it could and would.
_A week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush said he wanted Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) "dead or alive." But he told reporters six months later, "I truly am not that concerned about him." He did not mention bin Laden in his hour-long convention acceptance speech.
"I'm a war president," Bush told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Feb. 8. But in a July 20 speech in Iowa, he said: "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president."
Bush keeps revising his Iraq war rationale: The need to seize Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s weapons of mass destruction until none were found; liberating the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator; fighting terrorists in Iraq not at home; spreading democracy throughout the Middle East. Now it's a safer America and a safer world.
"No matter how many times Senator Kerry flip-flops, we were right to make America safer by removing Saddam Hussein from power," he said last week in Missouri.
Bush has changed his positions on new Clean Air Act restrictions, protecting the Social Security (news - web sites) surplus, tobacco subsidies, the level of assistance to help combat AIDs in Africa, campaign finance overhaul and whether to negotiate with North Korean officials.
But while Bush's policy shifts have been numerous and notable, Democrats haven't succeeded yet in tarring him as a flip flopper, said American University political scientist James Thurber.
"Kerry has made some statements about it, but he doesn't have a clear strategy for hammering back at the flip flops of the president," Thurber said.
The sustained Bush attack draws on Kerry's 20-year Senate record, with special emphasis on his votes to authorize force in Iraq in 2002 and against final passage last year of an $87 billion aid package for Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites).
Kerry didn't help himself by explaining that he first supported an amendment to provide the $87 billion by rolling back Bush's tax cuts. "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it," he said. The Bush campaign turned the quote into an ad.
Bush aides brush off suggestions by Democrats that the real flip-flopper is Bush, not Kerry.
"One moment they say the president's too stubborn and the next day accuse him of being a flip-flopper. It's generated to a point of incoherence," said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt.
EDITOR'S NOTE Tom Raum has covered Washington for The Associated Press since 1973, including five presidencies.
I didn't know the AP was in the business of editorializing.
The steel tariffs issue is lame. Bush didn't flip flop - foreign states lodged a successful complaint against the tariff.
Is this a wire story or an editorial?
Sounds like AP's really getting desperate these days ...
An event called 9-11 happened that shifted Bush's position that nation building for countries that harbor terrorists. I think it is a noble shift in the President's plan to protect us and the world.
The only issue I can't defend Bush on is McCain/Feingold. A very big mistake there, but now I think the President knows he made a mistake signing it into law.
Holding out on steel until WYO 'court issues an adverse ruling, and oders imposition of sanctions is a 'flip-flop'.
Wonder what they would have said if he had continued to hold out?
Kerry = "nuanced"
Bush = "damned if you do; damned if you don't"
For example George Bush went to Pennsylvania yesterday, is in New York today, and will be in Maryland tomorrow. He shifts his positions almost as much as Kerry.
Kerry even flip-flops on the flip-flop charge.
GOP Ignores Bush Flip-Flops in Pinning Label on Kerry.
Please tell me you're using the original AP title so I can stick it to the Dispatch.
Yep - it's the original AP title as seen on the link.
I told him I was from Free Republic. He said, "Who?" I then mentioned the phony CBS documents and he said, "Oh you guys. Those are alleged phony documents." I laughed and said he'd be hearing more and more about FReepers and directed him to today's LA Times mentioning us.
What in the WORLD is going on at FoxNews? This piece of garbage was actually posted right under their banner about 1/2 an hour ago.
Check ot my posts 11 and 14 on this thread. You'll see some real editorializing from my local paper.
Since the AP is objective and balanced, I'm sure they will also hit Kerry to offset this attack on Bush.
In fact, by the time the election is here, I exepct there will have been an exactly equal number of anti-Bush and anti-Kerry hit pieces from the AP.
Check out my posts 11 and 14. You'll see REAL bias.
I do like to read about our Buckeyes and Blue Jackets, so if I buy the paper, I just get it in the store. That way, I'm not committed to paying for their rag on an everyday basis.
Me too. And I have to have the Metro section.
BTW, when I first moved here 13 years ago, I lived at Lincoln Park West. That was awful last night.