Who among us has not changed our opinion from time to time? Take former U.S. Senator John Kerry, whose photo could be used to illustrate the verb “flip-flop” in the dictionary.
In 2003, Kerry famously declared, when criticized for a vote against a spending bill to fund the war in Iraq: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”
But Kerry can’t hold a candle to today’s political flip-floppers, who have elevated the artform to Orwellian heights.
The most recent example is a senatorial hopeful who changed his mind about the 2020 presidential election—like he was changing his socks after a hard day of misleading voters.
His “epiphany” came soon after he won his party’s primary. With the general election looming —where saner voters would prevail— he determined, after months of adamantly saying otherwise, that Joe Biden was, indeed and in fact, the nation’s legitimate president after all —that the 2020 election had not been stolen.
But even this abrupt, self-serving, and shameless U-Turn doesn’t lead the league in shiftless shifts. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham could give him lessons. Before it was clear that Donald Trump would be the likely winner of the Republican nomination for president in 2016, Graham referred to the man who is now his BFF as a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”
Based on the senator’s subsequent behavior, it is not clear if this characterization was meant as a criticism. To be fair, the honorable senator did say in 2015 that the way to make America great again was to “Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”
Neck and neck with Graham for having a hate-love relationship with the former president is Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. In 2016 Cruz called Trump, among other epithets, a “pathological liar,” “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen,” “a sniveling coward,” an “immoral bully,” and “a serial philanderer.”
And Ted should know: he went to Princeton and Harvard. But by 2018, Ted and Don were, like, totally BFFs. The latter traveled to Texas to campaign for Cruz’s reelection. Cruz, in turn, would work to keep Trump in the Oval Office after the ultimate narcissist lost the 2020 presidential election.
Some ultra-flexible “statesmen” are clever enough not to flip-flop in plain sight, for example, on YouTube. After the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, Rep. Kevin McCarthy reportedly told colleagues that he was going to ask the president to resign. McCarthy denied those news reports, but (oopsy-doopsy) he could be heard on a taped phone call saying that very thing.
Whether the timorous McCarthy ever confronted his commander in chief is highly unlikely since subsequently, in public, he pledged toadying support for the floundering president, lambasting anyone who found fault with the lame duck’s totalitarian behavior.
After a gyration like that, one would suspect that atop McCarthy’s “to do” list was: “Make appointment with my chiropractor.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell told allies after the insurrection that impeachment was warranted, then pulled a 180. He voted not to impeach the president, for the second time.
And what about the man for whom these flippers and floppers are doing cartwheels? He thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin is a genius for invading Ukraine.
David Holahan is a freelance writer from East Haddam.