Saturday, August 07, 2004

Politics: President Flip-Flop

"Today, because America and our coalition helped to end the violent regime of Saddam Hussein, and because we're helping to raise a peaceful democracy in its place, the American people are safer. (Applause.)" Remarks by the President on the War on Terror, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The speech. Analysis.

"We're still not safe," said Bush, who was spending the weekend at his family's oceanfront compound in Maine to attend the wedding of his nephew, George P. Bush, the son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Wait a sec... I thought only Democrats had ritzy oceanfront family compounds.

I'm a war president.  I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign-policy matters with war on my mind.  Again, I wish it wasn't true, but it is true." President Bush, “Meet The Press With Tim Russert” The Oval Office, February 7, 2004

Bush: 'I Want to Be the Peace President'
Tue Jul 20, 4:37 PM ET - CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Reuters) - After launching two wars, President Bush said on Tuesday, "I want to be the peace president," and took swipes at his Democratic rivals for being lawyers and weak on defense.

With polls showing public support for the war in Iraq in decline, the Republican president cast himself as a reluctant warrior as he campaigned in the battleground state of Iowa against Democrat John Kerry and his running mate, former trial lawyer [and current Senator? Former Presidential rival? Damn liberal media...] John Edwards. Bush lost the state in 2000 by only a few thousand votes.

"The enemy declared war on us," he told a re-election rally. "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president."

Now, in fairness to Bush, he did "reluctantly" claim the mantle of 'War President' both times. Even when bragging about it on MTP, he "wishes it wasn't true." Of course we all know he thanks Karl Rove for the War strategy every night, and this is all they have to run on. But alternately trumpeting yourself as the 'War' or 'Peace' President based on polls or the news from Iraq is a pretty dubious. And then, in the same speech, he goes back to this well again...
Despite a surge in attacks in Iraq and U.S. warnings that al Qaeda is plotting another major strike, Bush said U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had already made America safer, and that his re-election would let him finish the job.

"For a while we were marching to war. Now we're marching to peace. ... America is a safer place. Four more years and America will be safe and the world will be more peaceful," Bush said.

Well, give it a couple weeks, because we're not safe anymore, and he's the "War President" again.


Richard said...

How is saying, "we are safer than we were, but still not completely safe” a flip-flop? Those are not contradictory points. Now saying something like… oh, I don’t know…

"If that amendment does not pass, will you then vote against the $87 billion?"

"I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to – to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running. That's irresponsible." (9/14/03)

…five months later…

"I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it."

…now that’s a flip-flop.

Mr Furious said...

Welcome, Richard. I'm guessing you came over via the Baseball Crank.

Let me start out by saying the whole "flip-flop" name-calling is really not a fair way to measure a candidate or politician. For Kerry or for Bush. The only reason I wrote this post like this is to turn Bush's (seemingly) biggest weapon against him. Bush's "flips," as I've described them, are not truly contradictory statements in the same way that Bush never "truly" lies - they are and they aren't...

You can't make a major speech widely acknowledged as the "America is Safer" speech and then two weeks later jack up the "Homeland Security / Terrorist / Fear / Hype Code" and start running Tom Ridge out to make "non-political" warning speeches laced with campaign rhetoric.

Now, I'm not saying you can't raise the level in reaction to a genuine threat. Of course you can, and you should (it should be noted, however, that this threat has questionable veracity and its timing is suspicious).

My problem is with the speech. If we're living in a dangerous world and threats like this can pop up around any corner, I don't consider myself or the "American people" safer. You shouldn't make a speech like that. Period.

The War in Iraq has had no tangible effect on the safety of any American except the negative impact on those forced to serve over there. I know Bush's whole point is to try and justify his War, but he can't have a "safe" / "unsafe" stance on Homeland Security. Speeches like this and the unnecessary abuse of the Homeland Security Director and the Threat level will only serve to numb the American public and negate their effectiveness.

As far as Kerry's "$87 Billion for the Troops Flip Flop" it's hard to defend his story because he has supplied such great fodder for his opponents. This is my biggest problem with Kerry as my nominee: His utter inability to communicate clearly at times, and his need to make things seem more complicated or nuanced than they might actually be.

The actual issue is much easier to defend. And the criticism of his vote, easy to knock down. First of all, the outcome of this vote was never in question. So any "no" vote by Kerry can easily be classified as a protest vote. Secondly, the procedure on these kinds of appropriations actually does allow for multiple votes on a variety of versions of the Bill. Kerry, and some others, were pushing for a version with the exact same funding for the troops, but with more oversight (admirable), and with different forms of distribution for the re-construction funds (the last $20 billion, I think). The Administration and the Republicans wanted a more blank check version with a lot of crap shoved into it, and Kerry could not give his support to that version. I don't have a problem with that.

And that's just on the guts of the Appropriation Bill. If you have serious reservations of Bush's conducting of the War (and Kerry did), lock-step voting in his support is really the bigger flip-flop.

Kerry worked hard for a version of the Bill that offered the same support for the troops but contained more protection for the American taxpayer. His version lost. He didn't abandon the troops or call for anyone to cut and run.

No flip-flop in my opinion. Of course, he made his bed with his stupid comments over-explaining himself... but's that's another issue.

Mr Furious said...

Oh, and Richard, since you site doesn't seem to take comments, I agree on the Walker trade. I also think he'll adjust fine with his hitting, and I bet he stays healthy at sea level too.

Mr Furious said...

Back to the $87 Billion... Bush threatened to veto any Bill not to his liking. Would he have been abandoning the troops had he done so? Or would he merely have been playing his political hand to get the results he wanted? That's all Kerry was doing.

Another tidbit in the alternate version of the Bill:

Technically, the resolution approved on Tuesday urged House bargainers on the Iraq-Afghanistan bill to accept Senate-approved provisions on Iraqi loans and on better military and veterans medical coverage. The House version of that bill lacked that language.So was Kerry actually asking for more support for the troops than the Republicans? It would seem so. Why he cannot convey this stuff better himself is beyond me.

Dude Quixote said...

Best "Flip flop" analysis came via Daniel Schorr on NPR this weekend. He pointed out that it's absolutely absurd to not consider changing policies, opinions and positions in light of a contstantly changing world.

For what it's worth - Kerry realizes that situations and issues constantly evolve and change and therefore policies and strategies must also adapt to changing conditions. The real point is that Bush is all about black and white when we all know that the world exists in defferent shades of gray. Being committed to principle is one thing, being committed in the face of contradictory fact is just plain stubborn. Case in point - Iraq's alleged ties to 9-11. Even though it has been proved - by the 9/11 Commission, by the CIA - that Iraq and Al Quada have no ties, Cheney, Rummy and Bush continue to sell this bogus arguement that, thanks to FOX news, still works with the majority of non-thinking Americans.

And the Walker trade kills me. The Rockies get nothing worthwhile AND pay half of Walker's remaining contract. Bogus. I'm sooo glad that MLB trades are beginning to resemble NBA trades where nobody gives a shit about players, they just care about salary and salary slots.

Anonymous said...

Kerry campaign hits back:

For Immediate Release

August 5, 2004

Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said: George Bush can't be straight about his own record, let alone anyone else's. The fact is that George Bush twice threatened to veto this bill over the fact that it provided funding to veterans and reservists. As a combat veteran, John Kerry knows that you don't give a President a blank check to continue a failed policy, especially when our security and the lives of our men and women in uniform are at stake.
BUSH THREATENED TO VETO $87 BILLION SUPPLEMENTAL OVER ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR RESERVISTS AND VETERANS. As part of the $87 billion emergency supplemental appropriations for security and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, the Senate passed an amendment that provided an additional $1.3 billion for improved medical benefits for reservists and veterans. OMB Director Josh Bolten wrote to the Congressional Appropriations' Committees, stating, "The Administration strongly opposes these provisions, including Senate provisions that would allocate an additional $1.3 billion for VA medical care and the provision that would expand benefits under the TRICARE Program. ...If this provision is not removed, the President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill." [, 10/21/03]

BUSH THREATENED TO VETO $87 BILLION PACKAGE ON ISSUE OF ALLOCATING GRANTS OR LOANS TO IRAQIS. "Key senators reversed course yesterday and voted to make an $18.4 billion reconstruction package for Iraq entirely in the form of grants rather than loans, as House-Senate negotiators worked their way through President Bush's $87 billion request for military and rebuilding operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 16 to 13 vote represented a significant victory for Bush, who had threatened to veto the bill if Congress insisted on making Iraq repay some of the money." [Wash Post, 10/30/03]
Now, just put it in an ad and put it on TV.

Mr Furious said...

Oops. That was me posting the above comment, not some anonymous interloper.

Oh. and Dude Q., I meant to go into that whole "evolving position based on changing information and facts" vs "stubborn and unyielding even in the face of mounting evidence of a mistake", but my fingers got tired of typing before I got there...