Flip-Flopping: A Brief History

Flip-flops on contentious issues in politics are commonplace -- a central part of the very fabric of our governing reality. Usually they’re done for vote-getting reasons in the heat of a contentious election campaign. But not this time. Nancy Pelosi’s and Chuck Schumer’s flip-flop against their previous call for increased border security was made strictly for reasons of political and personal hatred of the opposition’s leader. Denying Trump a highly-visible win has certainly been the goal before, but almost never has it been as personal as it is this time.

First, let’s look at some of the more famous flip-flops in recent political history:

President George H. W. Bush

“Read my lips -- No new taxes.”

Spoken by candidate Bush when he received the Republican nomination for President at the national convention in 1988, this has become one of the most famous “just kidding” political lines from anyone in the last half-century. Although nominee Bush had every intention of adhering to his pledge, the complications of working with a Democratically-controlled Congress coupled with a national budget deficit led to President Bush agreeing to raise several existing taxes (technically not new taxes) as part of the 1990 budget negotiations. Still, the phrase “Read my lips” has become part of the national popular culture as a prototypical example of something someone will say just prior to doing the exact opposite.

John Kerry

“I actually voted for it before I voted against it.”

In one of the greatest flip-flops in recent memory, the hapless John Kerry tied himself up in rhetorical knots trying to explain why he’d just voted against an appropriations bill to fund the Iraq war in 2003.  This was a flip-flop in service to the common desire to have it both ways and not disappoint the audience at hand. In classic Kerryesque fashion, he then further compounded his botched utterance by claiming it was an “inarticulate moment late in the evening when I was dead tired.” CNN initial report had him on the air making the statement at 1:20 p.m. Early afternoon.

President Barack Obama

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.”

In a 2009 address to the American Medical Association (AMA) intended to convince the medical community that his plan for overhauling the country’s healthcare system -- “Obamacare” -- would not result in wholesale confusion and upheaval, President Obama sought to reassure skeptics that for people satisfied with their current situation, nothing would change. It was a blatant falsehood of course, one that the minute-detail-obsessed Obama incontrovertibly knew about beforehand but felt no compunction about saying anyway.

These fall into the most common category of flip-flops: Things that politicians say at the moment for straightforward reasons of political expediency. They simply say things they know aren’t true or make a lame excuse to fall into line with the now-preferred position of their constituency or they make promises they know they have no intention of keeping, all just to curry favor with the electorate and win a few extra votes. This happens all the time and it is not surprising or unexpected in the slightest.

But Nancy Pelosi’s and Chuck Schumer’s current objection to building a wall on the Mexican border falls into a far less often seen category -- taking a position that contradicts a previous publicly-stated position strictly for reasons of unhinged, frantic hatred of the opposition. They hate President Trump so much (and are confident that their hatred accurately reflects virtually 100% of their caucus) that they are willing to contradict a previously-held and very visible, verifiable position -- one that a very significant number of their constituents, in the deepest privacy of their own thoughts,  likely agree with -- simply for the gut-level emotional reason of denying President Trump a “win.”

Their hypocrisy is so staggering as to be laughable in its indefensibility. Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Obama, and many other very high-profile Democrats rest quite comfortably in their walled-off residential properties, secure from unauthorized ingress into their personal spaces.

Walls certainly work quite well as national security measures on a larger scale as well: Israel uses them to stunningly good effect.  In the areas of the U.S. where they been constructed, walls have proven to be extraordinarily efficient and impressive at doing their intended job:  Even ultra-liberal NPR had to admit that there was a 90% reduction in San Diego once the wall was constructed.

Pelosi’s and Schumer’s ‘no wall’ position contravenes the opinion of security experts as well. Many widely-respected security professionals have opined on the efficacy of physical barriers to prevent unauthorized entry.  Mark Morgan -- chief of U.S. Border Patrol during Barack Obama’s presidency -- said that walls “absolutely work.” Arizona Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot said a border wall there combined with an increase in manpower led to a 96 percent increase in apprehensions and a 91 percent reduction in criminal activity. Their views are representative of the security community as a whole.

This is not about “cost,” either. The previous wall-building measure that Pelosi and Schumer agreed to a few years ago was part of a $24 billion border security package. The amount of money the Democrats unfroze for Iran’s benefit was over five times that. Spending has hardly been an impediment to Democratic Party actions at any time in recent memory. The $5.7 billion that President Trump is asking for here is not the issue. For Democrats, $5.7 billion is a rounding error.

This is about political animus, pure and simple. Theirs is not a flip-flop brought about by the desire to glom a few extra votes, as is usually the case. Pelosi and Schumer are securely in office. They aren’t looking for votes. They’re looking to embarrass the President and deny him a high-profile win. This flip is strictly about hate. 

Democratic leadership is making a completely thought-out, quite intentional calculation that the deep-down feeling for the need for effective border security held by most Americans (even if never publicly admitted by Progressives) is subordinate to the gut-level satisfaction waiting to be derived by the hard-core haters from a very visible defeat of one of President Trump’s most vociferous campaign pledges.

Flip-flops on contentious issues in politics are commonplace -- a central part of the very fabric of our governing reality. Usually they’re done for vote-getting reasons in the heat of a contentious election campaign. But not this time. Nancy Pelosi’s and Chuck Schumer’s flip-flop against their previous call for increased border security was made strictly for reasons of political and personal hatred of the opposition’s leader. Denying Trump a highly-visible win has certainly been the goal before, but almost never has it been as personal as it is this time.

First, let’s look at some of the more famous flip-flops in recent political history:

President George H. W. Bush

“Read my lips -- No new taxes.”

Spoken by candidate Bush when he received the Republican nomination for President at the national convention in 1988, this has become one of the most famous “just kidding” political lines from anyone in the last half-century. Although nominee Bush had every intention of adhering to his pledge, the complications of working with a Democratically-controlled Congress coupled with a national budget deficit led to President Bush agreeing to raise several existing taxes (technically not new taxes) as part of the 1990 budget negotiations. Still, the phrase “Read my lips” has become part of the national popular culture as a prototypical example of something someone will say just prior to doing the exact opposite.

John Kerry

“I actually voted for it before I voted against it.”

In one of the greatest flip-flops in recent memory, the hapless John Kerry tied himself up in rhetorical knots trying to explain why he’d just voted against an appropriations bill to fund the Iraq war in 2003.  This was a flip-flop in service to the common desire to have it both ways and not disappoint the audience at hand. In classic Kerryesque fashion, he then further compounded his botched utterance by claiming it was an “inarticulate moment late in the evening when I was dead tired.” CNN initial report had him on the air making the statement at 1:20 p.m. Early afternoon.

President Barack Obama

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.”

In a 2009 address to the American Medical Association (AMA) intended to convince the medical community that his plan for overhauling the country’s healthcare system -- “Obamacare” -- would not result in wholesale confusion and upheaval, President Obama sought to reassure skeptics that for people satisfied with their current situation, nothing would change. It was a blatant falsehood of course, one that the minute-detail-obsessed Obama incontrovertibly knew about beforehand but felt no compunction about saying anyway.

These fall into the most common category of flip-flops: Things that politicians say at the moment for straightforward reasons of political expediency. They simply say things they know aren’t true or make a lame excuse to fall into line with the now-preferred position of their constituency or they make promises they know they have no intention of keeping, all just to curry favor with the electorate and win a few extra votes. This happens all the time and it is not surprising or unexpected in the slightest.

But Nancy Pelosi’s and Chuck Schumer’s current objection to building a wall on the Mexican border falls into a far less often seen category -- taking a position that contradicts a previous publicly-stated position strictly for reasons of unhinged, frantic hatred of the opposition. They hate President Trump so much (and are confident that their hatred accurately reflects virtually 100% of their caucus) that they are willing to contradict a previously-held and very visible, verifiable position -- one that a very significant number of their constituents, in the deepest privacy of their own thoughts,  likely agree with -- simply for the gut-level emotional reason of denying President Trump a “win.”

Their hypocrisy is so staggering as to be laughable in its indefensibility. Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Obama, and many other very high-profile Democrats rest quite comfortably in their walled-off residential properties, secure from unauthorized ingress into their personal spaces.

Walls certainly work quite well as national security measures on a larger scale as well: Israel uses them to stunningly good effect.  In the areas of the U.S. where they been constructed, walls have proven to be extraordinarily efficient and impressive at doing their intended job:  Even ultra-liberal NPR had to admit that there was a 90% reduction in San Diego once the wall was constructed.

Pelosi’s and Schumer’s ‘no wall’ position contravenes the opinion of security experts as well. Many widely-respected security professionals have opined on the efficacy of physical barriers to prevent unauthorized entry.  Mark Morgan -- chief of U.S. Border Patrol during Barack Obama’s presidency -- said that walls “absolutely work.” Arizona Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot said a border wall there combined with an increase in manpower led to a 96 percent increase in apprehensions and a 91 percent reduction in criminal activity. Their views are representative of the security community as a whole.

This is not about “cost,” either. The previous wall-building measure that Pelosi and Schumer agreed to a few years ago was part of a $24 billion border security package. The amount of money the Democrats unfroze for Iran’s benefit was over five times that. Spending has hardly been an impediment to Democratic Party actions at any time in recent memory. The $5.7 billion that President Trump is asking for here is not the issue. For Democrats, $5.7 billion is a rounding error.

This is about political animus, pure and simple. Theirs is not a flip-flop brought about by the desire to glom a few extra votes, as is usually the case. Pelosi and Schumer are securely in office. They aren’t looking for votes. They’re looking to embarrass the President and deny him a high-profile win. This flip is strictly about hate. 

Democratic leadership is making a completely thought-out, quite intentional calculation that the deep-down feeling for the need for effective border security held by most Americans (even if never publicly admitted by Progressives) is subordinate to the gut-level satisfaction waiting to be derived by the hard-core haters from a very visible defeat of one of President Trump’s most vociferous campaign pledges.