Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Pro Flip

I am not a John Kerry booster. Sure, I voted for him in 2004--and I won't say it was only because the alternative was so unappealing (though he was). But I don't think he is anything more than an average politician, and I would be quite happy if he stayed pat and put in his Senate position and let his higher ambitions wither away.

That being said: this is a great editorial. I believe it was Bill Maher who asked when changing one's mind in response to new evidence became a bad thing, and Kerry does a stellar job ramming home the point.
There's something much worse than being accused of "flip-flopping": refusing to flip when it's obvious that your course of action is a flop.

I say this to President Bush as someone who learned the hard way how embracing the world's complexity can be twisted into a crude political shorthand. Barbed words can make for great politics. But with U.S. troops in Iraq in the middle of an escalating civil war, this is no time for politics. Refusing to change course for fear of the political fallout is not only dangerous -- it is immoral.

I'd rather explain a change of position any day than look a parent in the eye and tell them that their son or daughter had to die so that a broken policy could live.

Actually, as it progresses, the editorial gets less compelling and more preachy (classic Kerry). But even still, it makes a really important point. "Consistency," as a wise man said "is the hobgoblin of small minds." President Bush is so afraid of being wrong that he refuses to be right: he persistently refused to put us on the right course on Iraq, and now I fear there is no right course. By itself, this is merely an example of poor leadership. But the real sin is how this vice was, through clever ads and cheap soundbites, turned into a virtue--a model to which all politicians were supposed to aspire. John Kerry lost because he was effectively "tarred" as a leader who would not stay the course. Today, of course, that translates to being tarred for being a leader who may have still given us a chance at victory.

Ezra Klein with the link.

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