Roll up your sleeves because we’re going to have to dissect a pair to get some answers. I hope you enjoy the smell of formaldehyde. Don’t you don’t have to worry about cancer if the stuff splashes on you or it’s upriver from your house. The Small Business Administration (SBA) says it’s fine and dandy. When it comes to science and substances that might be carcinogens there is no greater authority than the SBA. Wanting money has a lot to do with the science of a substances being a carcinogen or not, right?
And when government officials tell you that our old friend formaldehyde in the drinking water is nothing to worry about, I, for one, say drink up and let’s propose a toast to those who put our safety first.
Can you ever really have too much formaldehyde? Seriously.
But I digress before I dissect. Be liberal with that formaldehyde and splash it on your flip flops. Remember, kids, this is all in the name of science.
The year was 2004. A named George W. Bush wanted to be re-elected.
I spewed ’bout your flip-flop
I had to be on top
Cause the White House I called my home
Issues in the blender
Magic will render
All of those votes that I’m countin’ on!
Ah. The wisdom of Karl Rove. “Call him names. That’ll get ya elected.” Yes, all the hung in the balance was the fate of one man. Nothing else mattered.
Bush vs Kerry. The presidential mano-a-mano. A mere three years had elapsed since 9/11. People who voted for Bush said they based their decision on issues like terrorism and “family values.” Kerry supporters, however, cited other concerns like the war in Iraq, the economy, jobs, and health care. (Source: MSNBC.)
But the overriding “narrative” (in politics that’s adisgusting word) out of the Bush campaign was the Kerry was a flip-flopper. That he was King O’ The Waffles.
The entire Bush re-election was based on a verbal gaffe FUBAR of epic dimensions by John Kerry while speaking at Marshal University on Sept. 29, 2004.
I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.
–John F. Kerry
During clarifying remarks, Kerry called the statement “one of those inarticulate moments.” The Bush campaign responded by featuring the Kerry quote in television ads and making the point that Kerry flip-flops on issues, particularly the war in Iraq.
The key question for this scientist now becomes: What is a flip-flop?
Back then it seemed clear. It was changing your mind on an issue. But is that really that bad? At the time, John Edwards had also changed him mind about the war in Iraq. When asked about it, though, he simply said, “I made a mistake.” That sort of honest simplicity seemed to play better with voters.
These days, though, when politicians “evolve” lifetime stances on the issues from one side of the binary equation to the other, the “flip-flop” sort of name calling seems almost passé.
Barack Obama recently “evolved” his pat answer on gay marriage. Exciting heady times as you can no doubt tell by the response from the lamestream media. However, he couched his evolution by clearly indicating it was his personal opinion. As far as I know he hasn’t actually made the opinion into something more substantial like a campaign promise.
Mitt Romney also “evolved” his lifetime position on abortion. I was discussing this with a Romney supporter and they claimed, “There no flip-flop here.” I tried, really tried, to argue the point, but they wouldn’t have it.
“Romney himself has admitted he’s changed his mind. That’s no flip-flop.”
I guess that depends on the definition of a flip-flop. Have we all agreed on a definition? I don’t think so.
Kerry. Edwards. Obama. Romney. What are the flip-flop moments? Did they simply change their minds? Was it an “evolution?” Merely “mistakes” that have, apparently, since been corrected? How are we to know why particular animal itreally is? By listening to the opposition folks? Hardly. I sincerely doubt they are the best source for unbiased information on the topic.
I finally had enough to formulate my hypothesis:
Flip-Flop/Hobbiton Definition Hypothesis:
A “flip-flip” cannot merely be a one-way street. It must be more than a one-time position change on a binary issue. This definition is too limiting. Such an updated point of view can too easily be described as a mistake or an evolution.
My theorem states that a flip-flop must contain tertiary states. In Hobbit terms, this is also known as “There and Back Again.”
The three tertiary states of a flip-flop therefore must be:
- Binary condition A. This is also known as the Starting Point.
- Binary condition B. The switch from A to B is the “There” part of the Hobbit definition.
- Binary condition A. The switch from B and back to A. This is the “Back Again” part of the Hobbit definition.
Based on this hypothesis, a one-time issue switch doesn’t meet the criteria. Atwo-time position switch is required. Only then can one truly be said to be a flip-flopper. (Waffles is another term that can be substituted interchangeably.)
The flip-flop appellation can also be further strengthened by the degree of self-servingness involved at the time of the position changes.
To illustrate this theory, I offer the case of Mitt Romney. Mitt claims (as does his defender that I talked with) that his position on abortion was merely an “evolution.” Is that true?
- 1994, in Massachusetts, while running for the Senate against Ted Kennedy: “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.”
- 2001, in Utah, while considering a run for office: “I do not wish to be labeled pro-choice.” (Letter to the Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, July 11, 2001.)
- 2002, in Massachusetts, while running for Governor: “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.”
Ah. Hypothesis confirmed! Isn’t science exhilarating! Mitt Romney, the Hobbit, went there and back again. And, if you’ll note, each of his position shifts was calculated exactly based on his current needs to get what he wanted. Pro-life would make election difficult in Massachusetts and pro-choice would make it near impossible in Utah.
I submit that these are the true flip-flops we’ve all been looking for since 2004. I stand ready to accept the Nobel Prize in flip-floppiness. I take this branch of science quite seriously. I do not waver on flip-flops.
Bring on the peer review while I kick it with a Margarita and get myself a new tattoo.