In Defense of the Flip-Flopper and Compromise

Does changing your mind - like Mitt Romney and other politicians have done - mean you lack the courage of your convictions?


Romney on abortion. Obama on same sex marriage. George W. Bush on taxes. And right here at home: Lieberman on health care, and Dodd on AIG bonuses. 

All together, now: Flip-floppers!

But I am here to advance the notion that there are two kinds of flip-flopping. The first — the worst sort — is pandering and is the worst form of power-grabbing.

The second is not only better; it’s preferable to a lifetime of unyielding, dogmatic stubbornness. And when a turn from dogma means compromise and progress for all, then I say, flip-flop away. 

And while every politician would have the voting public believe that every flip-flop is the result of a newly-formed principled stand, we know better, don’t we? Do you really believe that Mitt Romney is pro-life, or do you think he changed his tune to appeal to a large and vocal social conservative faction to secure the presidential nomination?

And did President Obama not conveniently change his views on marriage in a timely fashion (thanks, Vice President Biden!), thus securing the vocal support of the social liberals who really have no choice but to support his candidacy anyway? 

Yet there are undoubtedly principled flip-flops. One must certainly suspect that Obama, who promised to close the Guantanamo prison camp after taking office, discovered exactly why he couldn’t once he did. Funny how Guantanamo as an issue all but disappeared once February 2009 rolled around.

But we must applaud that decision, no? Clearly Obama discovered why shutting Guantanamo would be a huge mistake. For that, he deserves credit.

Imagine a world in which no one ever changed their mind or admitted they were wrong. Do you hold the same views today as you did 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago? Is not acknowledging that the other side maybe, just maybe, has a point the lifeblood of compromise? And do we not, as a nation, need bipartisan compromise desperately?

This past Sunday evening, I watched with interest as Mitt Romney spoke with Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes. Romney appeared relaxed, confident and quite presidential (although a bit orange, truth be told, but perhaps that was just my television) as he described his policy plans should he win in November.  

Pelley pressed him on his economic policies, repeating the oft-heard criticism that Romney had not offered any specifics on how he planned to achieve sustainable economic growth. The devil’s in the details, said he.

Romney smiled and noted the country’s need, not just a desire, for a workable bipartisan plan. I paraphrase here, but the gist is that he would not approach Democrats with a preordained list of must-haves; instead, he would develop his policy together with the Democrats so that everyone can leave the deal table feeling like they contributed.

Real leadership-and ultimately, progress-means working together, he finished.


As I imagine what the next four years under President Obama would look like if he wins the election, I can’t help but shudder. Gridlock, higher taxes, stubborn rhetoric from both sides and, ultimately, little accomplished.

Governor Romney observed that while he led Massachusetts he worked with a vast Democratic majority (87 percent!) in an overwhelmingly liberal state. Yet under his leadership, the Massachusetts economy improved, largely as a result of increased revenues (fees, not taxes) and reduced state aid.

All together, now: Compromise.

Special Ed September 28, 2012 at 12:19 AM
NO-BAMA! He's a bigger turd nugget, teabagger, and scrotum tittie than Hitler's queer uncle Bevis.
yinyang September 28, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Hmmm have you ever heard the word obstructionism? As in the the republicans in Congress whose main objective has been NOT to do their jobs as representatives of the people, but to simply work towards preventing another Obama presidency? If you really believe Obama hasn't tried to work with Republicans, you've been watching too much Fox News. And btw, I'll bet they haven't reported on Fox the latest polls ( which explains why Fox viewers are the most misinformed people in the country), but Obama is leading and Romney seems to be getting more and more out of touch every day. At this point Obama just needs to coast for the next few weeks and let Romney help him (Obama) get elected. If you really don't see what's coming....well be prepared for a shock on election day.
YingYang Is Racist September 28, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I think you're a racist.
Lisa Bigelow September 28, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Thanks to all for reading and commenting -- and let's keep the comments clean, please. I'm in the midst of reading Bob Woodward's new book, "The Price of Politics." It is an eye opener. Look for my take on what passes for "compromise" next week in Patch Back. Thanks again. Lisa B.
Dan Sweet September 28, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Allan is right on point, and don't forget the cover ups, lies and distortions out of this white house. Chicago Politics at it's best. Stephanie Cutter .. "I don't know anything about the man in the video who's wife died of cancer"...cut to taped phone conversation with Cutter thanking the man for all the information.This administration recently caused the deaths of 4 Americans in Libya by not acting on intel.Their response was to cover up the gross ineptness and deny the facts, all for Obama's re-election. It disgusts me that these people who died are of no concern to Obama and his stooges. My America I once knew is fading away quickly. "Fundamental Change" is the phrase Obama uses. I want America fixed, not the Liberal change we're getting. Romney "again" phrased it wrong talking about the 47%. He's just not as good a politician as Obama, but he'll make a much better President to lead this country back to greatness instead of Obama's vision of government dependent mediocrity.


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