Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Flip Flopping

Conservatives droning on and on about Kerry's flip flopping is growing thin. For that matter, I suspect that this approach to the debate will have a negative impact on decided voters.

Undecided voters flip flop. Flip flopping is pretty much part of the definition of being undecided! Claiming that flip flopping is wrong will have a negative effect on people who are flipping flopping on the decision of Bush v. Kerry.

The fact that Kerry chances his stance on issues and his voting record seems counter intuitive is not a sign that the man is "unfit to be president." Quite frankly, I would prefer a president who is capable of seeing multiple sides of an issue to one that feels he is somehow personally endowed with infallibility.

The one point conservatives keep questioning is that Kerry was a steadfast supporter of the President and the decision to invade Iraq. Since Kerry is now criticizing the Bush's execution of the war, he is now opposed to the decision he supported just a few years ago.

Think about this for a moment. The conservatives are mad at Kerry for supporting the president when the president needed the country's support. Quite frankly, in the build up to the Iraq War, I felt it was very important to support the president and I alienated several friends by my refusal to take part in protests against the war.

Kerry's support of Bush's leadership during a time of trouble does not mean that Bush made the right decisions in the execution of the war.

From my perspective, it appears that Kerry's flip flopping was the result of seeing Bush's poor execution of the peace and Bush's overt actions designed to alienate the UN and international community.

Saddam Hussein was not a singular threat. Bush's complete and outright failure to build an international coalition empowered with the ability to remove dictators means that the world lost the ability to handle threats like the Sudan genocide. Saddam was not a singular threat. Dictators like this are a dime a dozen. The Sudan genocide, the problems in Nigeria and Liberia show that dictators pose ungoing threats in many nations in the world.

Supporting the president was the correct action in the build up to the Iraq War. After watching the war and seeing our support was misused, the correct action is to withdraw support. This is not flip flopping. This is the way that thinking people behave.

Remember that George Bush the first was instrumental in Saddam's rise to power. Is George Bush the first's decision to oppose his creation an act of flip flopping??????????

George Bush the second made a conscious decision to alienate the international community. He made a conscious decision to enter Iraq without a court system in place to handle war crimes committed by American soldiers (with hundreds of thousands of people in a stressful situation, you are guaranteed to have that need to be tried and the soldiers punished.)

If you look at the ICC, you see that the main objective of the ICC is to assure that there is a court system in place to handle attrocities. The goal of the ICC is to assure that there is a recognized court system in place to handle war crimes.

The ICC is in the process of being defined. Bush could have easily pushed the international community so that the ICC is primarily in the position of recognizing the legitimacy of US courts, and is only to try cases when there is not a recognized court system able to try the crimes.

The American soldiers I know are livid about the prisoner abuses that took place during the war. They are happy to see rogue soldiers tried by a legitimate court for legitimate crimes.

Imagine for a moment the difference in world politics if Saddam were tried by a court recognized by the ICC rather than a victor's court initiated by the US?

Anyway, flip flopping back to the question in hand.

Politics is strange. The way politics works is almost always guaranteed to create situations where politicians can be accused of flip flop. The very nature of compromise means you will vote differently than your hearts desire. For example, you might see an anti tax candidate vote for a tax increase because his vote was part of a compromise. Maybe the compromise decreased the tax by a percentage or maybe the compromise decreased spending. Maybe the tax increase was part of a realignment of the taxes.

The art of compromise, diplomacy and politics makes for extremely odd political histories.

Yes, people who behave totally on instinct do not flip flop and are consistent. People who think about the issues and are actively engage in politics can and will be accused of flip flopping. Personally, I prefer leaders who think to those who act on instinct.

The question of whether or not I prefer Kerry to Bush is still up in the air. I really don't like either candidate. But this droning on and on by conservatives who are opposed to thoughtful deliberation on issues is really wearing thin. The argument that "flip flopping" is evil and that we must act on instinct is likely to push a large portion of the flip flopping undecided vote into the Kerry camp.

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