Bush Campaign Lies

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Kerry's Flip-Flops 

The GOP and the Bush campaign have made a big deal over the fact that Kerry is supposedly a 'flip-flopper'. They claim to have documented no fewer than 35 issues on which Kerry reversed himself.

What's wrong with a flip-flop? Well, the implication is that Kerry isn't committed to a core set of beliefs, and will say and do anything to get elected. And it is generally true that voters are more likely to support a candidate with strongly held beliefs, even if they disagree with some of them, than a candidate who doesn't seem to believe in anything. So it matters if the Bush campaign is correct about many of these issues.

But is every reversal of opinion a flip-flop? Kerry has been a senator for more than 19 years, and has been a public figure for more than 30. Far from being concerned about 'flip-flops', we should be more concerned about someone who doesn't re-evaluate or alter his view over a 30-year span. As John Maynard Keynes said 'When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?' Would you vote for a candidate who still makes fighting communism the centerpiece of his foreign policy agenda?

In the analysis that follows, if the facts fail to show that Kerry reversed himself, then we must conclude that the GOP is wrong, and likely just throwing out dirt to see what will stick. These items will be highlighted in red and called out as lies. Items where Kerry genuinely reversed himself will be highlighted in blue, and some additional info will be given, either inline or via a link, so the reader can determine whether the reversal was purely political (a flip-flop), or in reaction to some fundamental change in the political landscape.

A final disclaimer: Just because an item appears in red here, that doesn't mean Kerry is innocent of flip-flopping on that issue; it just means that the Bush campaign can't back up its accusations. In 30+ years, there's no doubt Kerry has flip-flopped a few times. But it's worth noting that, as Kos and the Center for American Progress remind us, Bush has done his share of flipping as well.

  1. Flip-flopped on Iraq War
  2. Kerry Flip-Flopped On Eliminating Marriage Penalty For Middle Class
  3. Flip-Flopped On Patriot Act
  4. Kerry Took BOTH Sides On First Gulf War
  5. Flip-Flopped On Gay Marriage Amendment
  6. Flip-Flopped On Attacking President During Time Of War
  7. Flip-Flopped On Death Penalty For Terrorists. Even though 9/11 changed everything, Republicans want to hold it against Kerry that he changed his mind on this issue after the attacks, stating 'I am for the death penalty for terrorists because terrorists have declared war on our country'.
  8. Flip-Flopped On No Child Left Behind
  9. Flip-Flopped On Affirmative Action
  10. Flip-Flopped On Ethanol
  11. Flip-Flopped On Cuba Sanctions
  12. Flip-Flopped On NAFTA
  13. Flip-Flopped On Double Taxation Of Dividends
  14. Flip-Flopped On Raising Taxes During Economic Downturn
  15. Flip-Flopped On Small Business Income Taxes
  16. Kerry Flip-Flopped On 50-Cent Gas Tax Increase
  17. Flip-Flopped On Leaving Abortion Up To States
  18. Flip-Flopped On Litmus Tests For Judicial Nominees. This appears to be valid, but some additional verbage is required here. First, Republicans should be commending Kerry for speaking out against litmus tests for judicial appointees in 1986, when their beloved Ronnie was president. Taking such a stand, which ran contrary to the best interests of his party, was a highly principled action. And how have the Republicans responded? When Clinton was president and Republicans controlled the Senate, there were never fewer than 50 judicial vacancies, thanks to their obstructionism. Now that Bush is president, 168 of his 172 appointees have been seated, a higher percentage than even Reagan achieved in his first two years, with a Republican Congress. Yet that's still not enough for Bush, ramming through his most conservative nominees as recess appointments. After a decade of Republicans handling judicial nominations in the most partisan manner possible, do you really blame Kerry for responding in kind?
  19. Flip-Flopped On Federal Health Benefits
  20. Flip-Flopped On Tax Credits For Small Business Health
  21. Flip-Flopped On Health Coverage
  22. Flip-Flopped On Welfare Reform
  23. Flip-Flops On Stock Options Expensing
  24. Flip-Flopped On Medical Marijuana
  25. Flip-Flopped On Burma Sanctions
  26. Flip-Flopped On Military Experience As Credential For Public Office
  27. Flip-Flopped On PACs
  28. Flip-Flopped On $10,000 Donation Limit To His PAC Yeah, this isn't Kerry's finest hour. If it makes any difference to anyone, it seems pretty clear that the creation of the 'Citizen Soldier Fund' PAC was a reaction to the tremendous pressure to raise money in modern political campaigns, combined with the deadline for end of soft money imposed by McCain/Feingold. The PAC was started in December 2001 and collected $1.35 million, all of which was disbursed to various Democratic candidates (very little went to Kerry's campaign) by the time the PAC closed down sometime in 2002.
  29. Flip-Flopped On Using Personal Funds In 1996 Race It's probably impossible to prove conclusively whether the Republicans are right or wrong about this one. Follow the link for details.
  30. Flip-Flopped On Israel Security Fence
  31. Flip-Flop-Flipped On Ballistic Missile Defense
  32. Flip-Flopped On 1991 Iraq War Coalition
  33. Flip-Flopped On View Of War On Terror
  34. Flip-Flopped On Funding For Our Troops In Iraq
  35. Flip-Flopped On The Strategic Petroleum Reserve
Update: I just found another list of alleged flip-flops at the Bush campaign site! Actually, it's the same list with one new charge at the beginning and another at the end. And they are:

  1. Flip Flopped On Trade With China
  2. Flip Flopped On Internet Taxation

10:04 PM