Making Flippy-Floppy (Cheney Edition)


Widely reviled (and, as I've argued, widely misunderstood) Vice President Dick Cheney has been leading the charge against Man Tan shill and stumblebum presidential candidate John F. Kerry as a dirty, low-down flip-flopper.

So it's fun to find evidence of Cheney's own change of heart (and we're not talking about transplantation possibilities here). Reader Baylen Linnekin points a lonely nation to an August 2000 "Newsmaker" interview of Cheney by PBS newsdroid Jim Lehrer in which the veep is positively Kerryesque on various policy issues. To wit:

JIM LEHRER: So if somebody says, hey, wait a minute, Cheney voted against Head Start, he voted against setting up the Education Department, now he's on the other side, that is the result of what?

DICK CHENEY: Well, I think you have to look at context. I'm—I did vote against the creation of the Department of Education; I did vote against Head Start back in the 80s; I also voted for it at one point when Al Gore voted against it. But the—I think the important thing to keep in mind as well too is that we have learned a lot about what works in education.

Whole thing here. It's worth checking out if only for this picture of Cheney:

cheney face.bmp

NEXT: What Did You Do During the Drug War, Daddy?

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  1. This doesn’t seem like a flip-flop to me, since I sort of took the same position. After a period of time, some credible evidence came out that Head Start really did improve the odds for “under-priviliged” kids to achieve. For a time, the liberal supporters had me convinced.

    It seems, however, that whatever gains a Head Start program might make for kids, these effects disappear by junior high or so. Or at least that is the last I recall reading about the subject.

    In any event, anyone with a pragmatic streak, who could not undermine what the proponents of Head Start were arguing about its efficacy, could well have been persuaded it was an ounce of prevention well worth the cost. Even if that now seems to be a bit less than wholly true.


  2. “This doesn’t seem like a flip-flop to me, since I sort of took the same position.”

    Well, at least you’re honest about it.

    I guess “September 11th changed everything” just wasn’t going to work here.

  3. On a large enough timescale it’s foolish to call such a change a flip-flop.

  4. ZZZZZ

  5. The mother of all flip-flops (from a May, ’92 Cheney speech to the Discovery Institute in Seattle).

    “I would guess if we had gone in there, we would still have forces in Baghdad today. We’d be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.

    And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don’t think you could have done all of that without significant additional U.S. casualties. And while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the (1991) conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn’t a cheap war.

    And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam (Hussein) worth? And the answer is not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we’d achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.”

  6. Wha’? Huh? Oh, sorry, I guess D. Fletcher’s snoring woke ME up.

  7. only the dullards of this world don’t understand that politics is the art of effective vacillation. slamming a pol fo “flip-flopping” is not to understand politics at all.

    but, credit rove and the dubya campaign — they knew they, as an american political party, were marketing not to the smart and informed but to the stupid and ignorant. the complexity of parliamentary government is beyond such folks, and therefore repugnant; but simpleminded ideology sells like ice in the tropics. they’ve made the most of it.

    as p.t. barnum said, no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the american public.

  8. gaius

    I think you’re looking for:

    “No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
    H. L. Mencken

    and P. T. Barnum Never Did Say
    “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute” (which fits your thesis as well)

  9. I think HL Mencken said that. Barnum said “there’s a sucker born every minute”. Which is also an apt quote.

    The problem is the Bush guys understand that you’ve got to sell yourself to the mouth-breathers. Have to keep it so simple a 5th grader can understand it. So repeat “flip-flop” 82 trillion times and it becomes true.

    Of course, Kerry’s lameness helps them a lot. I don’t know why they can’t come up with a catchphrase or two:

    “W = wishful thinking”
    “dudes its gettin’ drafty!”

    ok those are pretty lame

  10. Mona,

    Can you be anymore transparently partisan?

  11. lol — thank you, mr bertram — it is a quotation well deserving of accurate sourcing.

  12. joe: I would think you could at least give me some credit. I tend toward a pragmatic approach toward many things, and when the best evidence was that Head Start made a large difference in outcomes for so-called underprivileged kids, I was willing to alter my usual opposition to govt intervention since it seemed foolish to argue with success. That is to say, for a time I accepted that the “left” proponents of a govt program could claim a victory; for several yrs I endorsed Head Start, putting result over ideology.

    After a time, further studies found it was not a long-term success. But before that data was available, I believed it possible that Head Start was an example of govt intervention doing good that would save a lot more money than the program cost. So call me a hypocrite. (shrug)But I can be persuaded by evidence.

    And no, 9/11 has nothing to do with it. If you’d like me to list my objections to both Bush and Cheney that continue, I can do that (e.g., Bush’s endorsement of a so-called Federal Marriage Amendment). It just so happens that on this matter of Head Start, the history of my positions has tracked Cheney’s.


  13. But what are your real opinions on the american electorate, gaius 😉
    But yes, as Uncle Ben once said, politics is the art of the possible. Contrary to his image as a straight-shooter from Texas (insert eyes-roll here), there are tons of instances where Bush has “flip-flopped”, whether in response to polling or due to political oppurtunism.
    So if the Kerry camp can’t counter Team Bush’s spin on his character then whose fault is it really ? Get out of the kitchen.

  14. Jason Bourne: This has nothing to do with being partisan; I disagree with both Bush and Cheney on a great deal re: domestic matters, and have actually told my son that Bush has been “spending money like a drunken sailor.” I despise their attitude toward gays. My support for Bush/Cheney (for whom I did not vote in ’00) is largely limited to foreign policy, which is my paramount concern.

    But it is a FACT that my attitude toward Head Start has been very similar to Cheney’s. Reasonable people can and did take these various positions for the reasons I have set forth. (The book THE BELL CURVE describes the history of intitial validation of Head Start giving way to a finding that it did not work long-term — THAT DID HAPPEN.)


  15. I don’t think you’re a hypocrite for changing your mind, Mona. I think you’re a hyopocrite for describing your own change of mind, and those of politicians you agree with, as evidence of your intellectual honesty and character, while holding similar changes (or even phony changes that never happened) to be evidence of cowardice, dishonesty, and lack of character.

  16. … bertram…

    We haven’t used that spelling since we hopped the Channel in 1066.

  17. But yes, as Uncle Ben once said, politics is the art of the possible.

    And all this time I thought it was Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

  18. In the words of David Horowitz, and reprinted in pamphlets sent to every Republican action committee, “Campaigning is not a debate. It is war.” He believes quite sincerely that the Democrats waged this war and the R’s are just retaliating in kind, never mind Watergate.

    Truth, of course, is the first casualty of war and there is no sign of a truce. This shit’s gotta stop.

  19. Mona,

    I’ve never actually seem you disagree with the Bush administration without being pressed to do so. “They call Cheney flipper…”

  20. Gadfly,

    Spoken like a true ex-Black Panther.

  21. joe writes: “I don’t think you’re a hypocrite for changing your mind, Mona. I think you’re a hyopocrite for describing your own change of mind, and those of politicians you agree with, as evidence of your intellectual honesty and character, while holding similar changes (or even phony changes that never happened) to be evidence of cowardice, dishonesty, and lack of character.”

    This makes no sense. I’ve never claimed that Kerry flip-flops, and I don’t think I’ve said so about anyone else. (As it happens I do think that Kerry utters confusing and irreconcilable positions about various issues in brief windows of time, but I’ve never opined on that before.)

    My basic problem w/ Kerry is not the alleged flip-flopping. I do not trust him re: foreign policy.

    Jason Bourne: I do not need to be “pressed” to disagree with the Bush administration. For Christ’s sake, I’m a True Believing libertarian, and on myriad doemstic issues am appalled by it. You are confusing my single-minded dedication to foreign policy issues (where I largely agree with Bush) with concurrence on other matters, which is NOT the case. It is simply that in the last several yrs foreign policy has made me damned near to being a single-issue voter.

    In any event, the only reason I opined in this thread was becasue of the Head Start issue, which is one in which I have a history of changing my mind much as was described for Cheney. It would not have mattered to me who was tied to that “flip-flop”; I would have told my tale anyway. It is an issue in which I have taken some interest.

    Want me to diss Cheney? I think it sucked that he would not have his gay daughter and her SO stand with his family at the RNC. He was a moral coward.


  22. Mona-

    “My support for Bush/Cheney (for whom I did not vote in ’00) is largely limited to foreign policy, which is my paramount concern.”

    Doesn’t that make you a “Security Mom?”? If so, I’m honestly curious, do you embrace that label or do you find that sort of segmentation offensive/absurd?

  23. Mona,

    There is no difference between Bush and Kerry on foreign policy matters either (aside from perhaps Bush’s occassional bit of posturing for the cameras).

  24. Jason, while is certainly true that a bit of judicious data mining of Kerry’s spectrum of positions on foreign policy can produce a sample that is virtually identical to Bush’s positions, only a fool would believe that Kerry and Bush will respond to the same challnges in the same ways.

  25. Jason-

    I actually believe that Kerry will probably handle Iraq, as it stands right now in a manner similar to Bush’s policies. Not exactly similar, but not all that different either.

    As RC Dean points out, the real question is on whether they would respond to future situations in the same way. Despite some of Kerry’s (apparently contradictory) statements on the matter, I suspect that there would be genuine differences.

    In other words, once a decision is made future policy-makers are severely constrained, but until that original decision is made there’s a great deal of latitude. The real difference between Bush and Kerry are not on what they’ll do in Iraq on January 20, 2005, it’s what they’ll do elsewhere.

  26. R.C. Dean,

    Oh yes; unsubstantiated claims and a lame attempt at an insult to boot. I really can’t take you seriously.


    They’ll pretty much do the same stuff elsewhere.

  27. They’ll pretty much do the same stuff elsewhere.

    That’s either the best or worst news of this entire election.

  28. I have nothing useful to add. But I just want to tell you what Cheney is saying in the picture: “Brains! Must eat brains!”

    That is all.

  29. I dunno. If Bush gets a pass on his invasion it will give him the green light to do it again. Kind of like taking his last Supreme Court win as a mandate. If Kerry wins on the basis of doing it “right” when we must do so instead of when we would like to do so, I don’t think we’ll see a repeat. In contrast, I’ve heard some R’s chiding the D’s for “cowering behind diplomacy”. Clear choice here.

    As for Iraq, the vase is busted and it’s just a matter of who can glue it back together and shine it up the best before Mom gets home. Tossup.

  30. I haven’t seen Cheney flip-flop like that since his pace maker shorted out.

  31. Short out? Hell you oughta see what the garage door openner does to him.

  32. Mona, a brilliantly executed strategic withdrawal, demonstrating the degree of professionalism I’ve come to expect from you. Well done.

    Even as she cedes ground, she does so in such a way that she doesn’t take any casualties, leaves behind some land mines and covering fire that could inflict casualties on the enemy, and lives to fight another day, possibly even stronger for the abortive engagement.

    Pat attentin, kiddies. That’s how it’s done.

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