Bush, the great flip-flopper

President Bush mysteriously changed the name of this week’s campaign tour from the “Winning the War on Terror” tour to “Yes, America Can.”

Bush is against a 9/11 commission; then he’s for it.

Bush is against an Iraq WMD investigation; then he’s for it.

Bush is against nation building; then he’s for it.

Bush is against deficits; then he’s for them.

Bush is for free trade; then he’s for tariffs on steel; then he’s against them again.

Bush is against the U.S. taking a role in the Israeli Palestinian conflict; then he pushes for a “road map” and a Palestinian State.

Bush is for states right to decide on gay marriage, then he is for changing the constitution.

Bush first says he’ll provide money for first responders (fire, police, emergency), then he doesn’t.

Bush first says that ‘help is on the way’ to the military … then he cuts benefits

Bush-“The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. Bush-“I don’t know where he is. I have no idea and I really don’t care.

Bush claims to be in favor of the environment and then secretly starts drilling on Padre Island.

Bush talks about helping education and increases mandates while cutting funding.

Bush first says the U.S. won’t negotiate with North Korea. Now he will

Bush goes to Bob Jones University. Then say’s he shouldn’t have.

Bush said he would demand a U.N. Security Council vote on whether to sanction military action against Iraq. Later Bush announced he would not call for a vote

Bush said the “mission accomplished” banner was put up by the sailors. Bush later admits it was his advance team.

Bush was for fingerprinting and photographing Mexicans who enter the US. Bush after meeting with Pres. Fox, he’s against it.

First, Coalition Provisional Authority chief administrator L. Paul Bremer was adamant that U.S. troops were going to arrest firebrand Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr. Now, they are not.

Second, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were adamant that the United States was not going to the United Nations to seek more support in Iraq at the expense of delegating any authority there. But in his nationally televised press conference last week, the president took pains to praise the mission of U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and emphasize his determination to back it to the hilt.

Indeed, on Monday Bush named Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte as his first ambassador to an at least titular independent Iraq after the scheduled handover of sovereignty on June 30. This move has also been widely taken as a sign that eschewing previous Pentagon-run policies, Bush is finally prepared to let the world body have more of a say in helping restore that country.

Third, in his 2002 State of the Union speech, Bush boldly condemned Iran along with Iraq as a fellow member of the so-called “Axis of Evil.” Yet now, Bush is eagerly courting Iran as a key facilitator in negotiations with the Shiite rebels in Iraq. Washington has eagerly sought Iran’s good offices to get hostages released in Iraq and to reach a compromise consensus in dealing with the militias in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Fourth, after the murder and mutilation of four U.S. civilian employees in Fallujah in central Iraq a few weeks ago, U.S. officials in the country were adamant that overwhelming force would be applied to go into Fallujah and impose law and order, U.S. style. But now, U.S. forces are holding back from Fallujah and U.S. Marine forces have been given the go-ahead to return to their old “softly-softly” policy that senior officials angrily repudiated after the killings.

Fifth, U.S. military commanders gave a grim ultimatum to rebel forces in Fallujah to surrender all their weapons or be crushed. But now that ultimatum has already been watered down. Only heavy weapons are to be surrendered. The rebels will be allowed to retain their light weapons, including automatic rifles. That is a crucial concession to any militia or guerrilla force as possession of such weapons gives them the power to continue to enforce or even extend their political control over their subject population.

Sixth, the Pentagon and the CPA surrounded the Shiite holy city of Najaf with 2,500 troops. But then they reined those troops in and for the moment are doing nothing with them.

To some degree, it can be argued that these flip flops represent a long overdue and welcome concession to reality by an administration that in its Iraq policy had previously had never exhibited any. Wars are not won through fearlessly jutting one’s jaw out and refusing to acknowledge messy, complex and rapidly changing realities. They are only lost that way. Often, the most important function of stirring rhetoric in war is precisely the opposite: to mask otherwise embarrassing but absolutely essential changes in policy demanded by the dynamic of unanticipated and rapidly changing events.

Additionally, needlessly further antagonizing the rapidly growing Sunni and Shiite guerrilla forces in Iraq is the most dangerous mistake U.S. senior officials can make at this point in time.

George W. Bush has unambiguously flip-flipped on the crucial issue of fiscal policy (used to oppose budget deficits, then said they didn’t matter when trying to pass his 2003 tax cut, and now may or may not oppose them), foreign policy (used to favor being “humble” and avoiding nation-building, now favors arrogance and inept nation building). He opposed McCain-Feingold during the campaign and then signed it. As governor of Texas he opposed an HMO Patients’ Bill of Rights then after it passed over his veto he tried to claim credit for it on the 2000 campaign trail, but once in office he tried (successfully) to get it killed in the House, but indicated that he would sign it if it passed.

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