Presidential Debates 2012

Obama Out Flip-Flops Romney

|

President Obama has discovered that his GOP rival, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, is a known flip-flopper. "Now that we're 18 days out from the election," Obama said at a speech on Friday, "Mr. 'Severely Conservative' wants you to think he was severely kidding about everything he said over the last year," the president said. "He told folks he was the ideal candidate for the Tea Party, now he's telling folks, 'What? Who me?' He's forgetting what his own positions are. And he's betting that you will too." 

The president, who went on to diagnose his rival with "Romnesia," is of course right that Mitt Romney has displayed an impressive capacity for flip-flopping. As I argued in my March feature on Romney, the former Massachusetts governor has altered his position on nearly every major political issue of the day, from immigration to gun control to carbon-emissions policies to abortion. Romney's continuously adjusting positions are one of the biggest reasons that many people say they do not trust him. At minimum, they make it hard to confidently guess what he might do as president. 

But consistency has not always been the president's strong suit either. From time to time he has straightforwardly reversed himself — explicitly flipping his position, for example, on the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, which he campaigned against in 2008, and later alternately declaring that the mandate both is and is not a tax

Most of the time, however, Obama's reversals have taken a different form. Rather than openly reversing himself like Romney, Obama declares his position on a matter, fails to follow through with actions that support that position, and then when questioned about it insists that his position has not changed.

You can see this pattern on display on a whole host of issues. For example, the deficit. Obama promised to cut the annual budget deficit in half by the end of his first time. Instead, he took a $1.186 trillion deficit, increased it to about $1.4 trillion, then finally dropped it down about 8 percent below the original tally. Yet as Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner has noted, even as the annual deficits repeatedly clocked in in at well above the trillion dollar mark, Obama continued to insist that his administration was on track to make good on his promise. "We are on the path to cutting our deficits in half," he said in 2010. "When I took office, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term," he said. "Our budget meets that pledge and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade." Needless to say, it wasn't. 

Or look at how he's handled medical marijuana.

Running for office in 2008, he said he supports the "basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs." He was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." He told an Oregon newspaper that he would stop the Drug Enforcement Agency's raids on local pot clinics.

Yet as Jacob Sullum reported for Reason last year, that's not at all what happened. The pace of raids on medical marijuana clinics actually picked up under Obama, and at the time of Sullum's story were more frequent than under his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. Obama now defends himself by downplaying his own authority to stop DEA raids and saying that "there haven't been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes."

As for those raids, well. Obama says it's a "murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users." And because of that, he says, "we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we're telling them, 'This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way.' That's not something we're going to do." The message? Anyone who was expecting raids to actually cease or slow down, rather than increase, was expecting too much. Obama didn't change his position. We just misunderstood it.

Obama's health care promises have been similarly full of twists and turns, even aside from his evolving support for the mandate he eventually signed into law. He promised, for example, that his plan would "cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premiums by $2,500 a year." But of course health insurance premiums have gone up since the passage of ObamaCare. Yet Obama insists that we're still on track. Over the last two years," he said at the first presidential debate, "health care premiums have gone up, it's true, but they've gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years. So we're already beginning to see progress." A somewhat slower rise is progress toward a cut? 

As with his broken deficit pledge and his medical pot remarks, the President is insisting that we're moving in the direction he promised – despite clear evidence that in fact things are moving in precisely the opposite direction. And if things look worse at the moment, that can be explained away.

The reason flip-flops matter is because they suggest someone can't be trusted. But the same goes for Obama's excuses and evasions. Romney may be forgetting what his own positions are. But President Obama is ignoring or excusing his own actions. 

NEXT: Dead Girl's Parents Suing Monster Beverage Corp.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Acceptable alt text on the second pic.

    1. If by acceptable you meant awesome.

  2. Lest we forget the flip-flop of “I called it a terrorist attack through sheer dumb luck in the Rose Garden speech”, followed by nine days of “blame the video maker” and then back to calling it a terrorist attack for the first time.

  3. When Obama does it he’s “clarifying his position”! Sheesh!

    1. Evolving!

  4. Romney openly changes his position, more say like Clinton. Obama is more like GWB, who insisted that he was conservative even as he massively increased spending.

    1. You mean they are all douche-bags?

  5. Obama is not a flipper! He just straight up lies. About everything.

    1. I think of him as the lazy loser. Instead of doing anything, he lets things run their course while playing hoops, they just looks back and makes up creative excuses for all the failures.

  6. if tough times reveal character, you see everything you need to know about Obama when he’s challenged or pressed on something. The default reaction is: voice pitch goes up, condescension and pettiness follow, he shifts from the issue to the person, and he believes the thousand yard stare really works.

    1. “You just know he’s never been in the shit. He ain’t got the stare. . . . The thousand-yard stare. A Marine gets it after he’s been in the shit for too long. It’s like you’ve really seen. . .beyond. I got it. All field Marines got it. You’ll have it, too.”

    2. That stare was authentically creeping me the hell out yesterday.

      1. You ain’t never been in the shit.

        1. I’m here to photograph for the Stars and Stripes.

          But if we get in the shit….I’ll go straight for the rifle.

          1. Does this mean Ann-Margret isn’t coming?

  7. Obama can’t even decide what his accent is, he’s got no room to talk about flip flopping.

  8. Obama says it’s a “murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users.”

    I suspect that the main problem is that some people might be making TEH EVUL MONEYZ off of the medical MJ. That’s the real problem as far as Captain 0 is concerned. You shouldn’t be able to profit by supplying a product that people need and/ or want at a price that they’re willing to pay. ‘Cause that’s EVUL.

    1. No, in this case I really think are more worried about people actually enjoying themselves with the medical mj.

      It’s just that going after those people is politically unpopular but if you go after the evil corporashunz!!ZOMG!!!! who are profiting by selling the evil drugs!!!ZOMG!!! to our childrunz!!ZOMG!!! then you get political cover and make it harder for those people to enjoy themselves even if you can’t outright stop it.

  9. my impression of the Obama campaign: they are losing the thread, and not carrying the narrative ahead.

    Of course the Romney campaign isn’t doing a grand job of this either.

    It’s more of a “meh” election than one with piss ‘n’ vinegar.

    1. Is this what passes for poetry in Michigan?

      1. yes

      2. Hey, you can take your cowboy poetry and ride it into the sunset.

      3. believe it or not, no rhyming was intended. I only have my worst enemy – myself – to blame.

        1. Really? As soon as I read it I heard the pattern.

          1. Lord H has been listening to “Gangnam Style” a lot lately.

            It just infuses you with rhythm and makes you into fucking Billy Shakespeare of teh Intertoobs.

            1. You know what I’m sayin!

  10. Romney basically said that he was going to head back to the center this summer with his “etch-a-sketch” comment. I’m certainly not surprised.

    1. That wasn’t Romney’s comment.

  11. What did that Clemens guy say about people who never change their opinion?

    1. The Rocket? I think he said, “I have never used steroids, human growth hormone, or any other type of illegal performance enhancing drugs..”

      But i don’t see how that’s relevant.

      1. Nicely done.

  12. “Our budget meets that pledge and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade.”

    How is it possible that nobody laughs out loud when he says this stuff?

    How is it possible he doesn’t just burst into flames every time he speaks?

  13. Don’t forget his flip flop on gay marriage.

  14. That’s a lot of words to say both Obamney and Obamney are serial liars.

    1. This is politics. They aren’t lying. They exaggerate, they misspeak, they put their foot in their mouth, but never-ever lie. That would suggest they’re somehow less than honorable, and when you do that, people might get the wrong idea, and our whole system of government will crumble.

      1. Isn’t if funny how much we are supposed to tiptoe around the word “lie”? Remember all the wailing and gnashing of teeth when one of Obama’s lies was called outby Joe Wilson.

  15. Instead, he took a $1.186 trillion deficit…

    That figure attributes all of TARP to Bush even though the first 250 billion was the only portion spent or guaranteed while he was actually in office. Although it is rather unlikely Bush would have behaved any differently than Obama had he retained the office, there’s a certain amount of fairness in pointing out that Obama and congress inherited the remainder. And contra the media narrative, Obama didn’t “inherit” a FY 2009 budget that included his signature ~800 billion dollar “stimulus” bill either.

  16. One hour we do not speak. I thought a lot. Finally, still feel like saying it’s the fox is not possible, we Cheap Football Cleats can not find evidence that the gray-haired woman does not show fox, but no evidence, just to prove that the fox can transform himself into a cheap ugg boots for women white-haired woman. And to compare with each other, or scientific concepts prevail.

  17. Most of the time, however, Obama’s reversals have taken a different form. Rather than Dr Dre Beats openly reversing himself like Romney, Obama declares his position on a matter, fails to follow through with actions that support that position, and then when Beats By Dre Australia questioned about it insists that his position has not changed.

  18. This is politics. They aren’t lying. They exaggerate, they misspeak, they put their foot in Dr Dre Beats their mouth, but never-ever lie. That would suggest they’re somehow less than honorable, and when you do that, people might get the wrong idea, and Beats By Dre Australia our whole system of government will crumble.

  19. This is politics. They aren’t lying. They exaggerate, they misspeak, they put their foot in Dr Dre Beats their mouth, but never-ever lie. That would suggest they’re somehow less than honorable, and when you do that, people might get the wrong idea, and Beats By Dre Australia our whole system of government will crumble.

  20. This is politics. They aren’t lying. They exaggerate, they misspeak, they put their foot in Dr Dre Beats their mouth, but never-ever lie. That would suggest they’re somehow less than honorable, and when you do that, people might get the wrong idea, and our whole system of government will crumble.

  21. As a potential congressman, Massie supports the elimination of the Federal Reserve and wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulation package. He http://www.drdrebeatsbydreau.com/ favors both lower taxes and balanced budgets, helping him earn the backing of the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Republican Liberty Caucus.

  22. Obama’s health care promises have been similarly full of twists and turns, even aside from his evolving support for the mandate he eventually signed into law. He http://www.cheapfootballcleatsmall.com/ promised, for example, that his plan would “cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premiums by $2,500 a year.” But of course health insurance premiums have gone up since the passage of ObamaCare.

  23. Running for office in 2008, he said he supports the “basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs.” He was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws.” He http://www.cheapfootballcleatspro.com/ told an Oregon newspaper that he would stop the Drug Enforcement Agency’s raids on local pot clinics.

  24. Hi there to all, it’s really a nice for me to pay a visit this web site, it includes important Information.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.