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Obama Flips Toward Center, While McCain Flops to Base

If you care about flip-flops, BBC has taken its turn to put together a compilation of Obama and McCain policy U-turns. The examples indicate that McCain has, atypically, traded more moderate positions for right-wing stances favorable with his base. More traditionally, Obama has shifted center after locking in the nomination, so he can appeal to undecided moderate voters. Here are some examples:

  • McCain and Interrogation: McCain now supports a bill exempting the CIA from the US Army's interrogation rules.
  • Obama and Surveillance: In 2007 he pledged to filibuster retroactive telecom immunity; but, he recently announced that he would not oppose such bill.

For some other repositions from the BBC guide,


  • McCain and Immigration: McCain backed Bush's plan for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. McCain said he now prioritizes border security, over a citizenship plan.
  • McCain and Guantanamo: McCain previously opposed Bush's detention policies at Gitmo. Now he says Supreme Court's decision to give prisoners access to US courts one of worst decisions in history
  • Obama and Campaign Finance: Although Obama says he never promised to stay in public finance system his decision to opt out has been viewed as bad faith.
  • Obama and Free Trade: Backing away from his anti-free-trade rhetoric, Obama now says: "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified."

When does flip-flopping equal hypocrisy, and when does it signal a flexible and reasonable outlook?


Join The Conversation
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
When is the first debate? I'm getting bored with speeches and blah blah...
stephley stephley 8 years
I'm not sure how the National Journal measures liberal - Obama's certainly not more liberal than Russ Feingold or Bernie Sanders and I doubt he's more liberal than Ted Kennedy. (I just got flagged with no cusses and no link!)
Jillness Jillness 8 years
syako syako 8 years
yes it is! :highfive:
stephley stephley 8 years
I'm with Jill - as a liberal, I don't know how the National Journal decided Obama was more liberal than Russ Feingold or Bernie Sanders.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
And that is perfectly ok. :)
syako syako 8 years
well I disagree with you on that one.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Yes, Cabaker, you have to vote sometimes and Obama did vote more than 4000 times in the Illinois state senate. The "present" votes were done a tiny fraction of the time, and for specific reasons. We can all use what resources we like when trying to figure out what a politican thinks, but just don't be surprised when such limited "tools" conflict with what the candidate stands for. McCain voted with Bush 95% last year, and yet I am not going to say that McCain and Bush are 95% in agreement. As individuals, it is up to us what we give credibility and weight to. IMO, I think that Obama's positions and policy ideas clearly do not support the title of "most liberal in the Senate".
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 8 years
On one hand this REALLY frustrates me because as Piper pointed out, Obama's stance on Iraq was one of the only major differences he had with Hillary and I do believe that MANY votes were affected by that. On the flip side, as I've pointed out in other threads, there is Top Secret information that only the President and his immediate advisors are privy to concerning Iraq and the war. No presidential candidate has access to this information and it's absolutely silly to think that they would stick to an exit plan or vice versa before understanding the whole picture. I don't believe that Obama has misled people, I believe that people have misled themselves by putting him on too high of a pedestal and thinking that he's going to make everything perfect instantly. Of course he has to be flexible to the possibility of changing his mind. He doesn't have all the information yet.
Lynne Lynne 8 years
Maybe I'm getting confused by all the argumentative posts and Zoolander quotes... The same can be said for McCain, which we discussed after the commercial. McCain was found to be a more liberal Republican in the past. Since he's become the nominee, more and more of his votes have followed Bush and the conservative stances. This "is it okay to flip flop?" debate will be endless. Kerry was called a flip flopper, too. I think the point is accurate that certain parts of bills can be favorable/unfavorable and the resutling vote will be decided when the bill is more favorable.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
Blondie, you were the first to call my intelligence into question, I was just following your lead. Second, you can't have it both ways. You can't say Obama wants to let babies die on a table and then say it's not about Obama. Your "debating" skills are little more than solipsisms wrapped in disinformation dunked in hollow rhetoric. I am more than happy to listen to other's points, but all you are doing is supporting some infantile anecdote about a baby who died and miring it in political bias. What's there to listen to? If I want non-arguments, I'll yell at Bill O'Reilly on my television.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
I don't understand at what point voting present or abstaining because you don't agree with every point of legislation just becomes treading water. I mean you HAVE to vote sometimes. And if those votes are consistently to one side, why is that not considered important information? It would be one thing if there were a few here and few there, but to consistently to do to the point where one is actually the MOST consistent to one side.... I just don't see how that can be written off.
syako syako 8 years
right, but don't you think that voting the MOST liberal based on the entire senate says SOMETHING even if taking into account nuances and shades of gray. I'm just not understanding the logic of this argument...
Jillness Jillness 8 years
If you are still waiting, then I will post it again. :oy: "I wasn't trying to be insulting. I am just saying that most issues are not black and white, and using numbers to represent opinions on legislation cuts out a LOT of context and detail." Blondie, Obama has always wanted an exception for the mother's health in partial birth abortion bans. I don't think that supporting a ban as long as it includes exceptions for the mother's health is "extreme".
syako syako 8 years
still wanting to know what's wrong with posting senate votes... :shrug:
amybdk amybdk 8 years
I would like to request an :ohsnap: emoticon now.
syako syako 8 years
I'm still wondering... :shrug:
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Since the topic of the post is candidate policy, it seems obvious to me that the true topic of the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act discussion isn't that nurse and the dead baby, but how that anecdote relates to Obama. I thought the point of bringing it up was to discuss Obama. I could be wrong. Who knows?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Damn, this is better than smack down!
blondie01 blondie01 8 years
yes rac, your right. I don't read what I write. And you obviously don't either, I wasn't talking about Obama I was talking about the woman in my first post. So why don't you stop with the insults and start trying to understand where others who don't share you perspective come from. or is that too much to ask from a racoon?
syako syako 8 years
true. but when someone votes the most liberal in the senate, AND someone else says he's centrist, then I think showing those numbers DOES add to the conversation.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Well I think it is clear that the people who are surprised about his withdrawl plans with the Iraq war would have been better informed about the nuance of his plans if they would read up on what he says instead of just looking at a chart with numbers that were regarding other issues. (People in general, no one specific). I wasn't trying to be insulting. I am just saying that most issues are not black and white, and using numbers to represent opinions on legislation cuts out a LOT of context and detail. For example, McCain was against the Bush tax cuts and now he is for them. I know that there was a stipulation that he wanted included that wasn't there before and now is (from what I have heard). Just looking at his voting record you could say McCain flip flopped, totally did a 180 in his opinion. But look at the finer details, and his position has apparently been consistent. As I have said before, just looking at the title of a bill or percentage of a voting record doesn't account for the very important "WHY" factor.
blondie01 blondie01 8 years
Ok Jillness. What that lady described is a partial-born abortion. Here is an excerpt from a site explaining it with all the facts you could imagine... "ARE THE BABIES ALIVE DURING THE ABORTION? Yes! On July 11, 1995, American Medical News (AMA’s official journal) submitted the transcript of a tape-recorded interview with abortionist Dr. Martin Haskell to the House Judiciary Committee in which he admitted: “...the majority of fetuses aborted this way (partial birth abortion) are alive until the end of the procedure.” " To read more and see how the procedure is done: And on Obama's extreme stance: Obama's record on abortion is extreme. He opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion -- a practice a fellow Democrat, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once called "too close to infanticide." Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" because of a crisis pregnancy -- hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life. there you go
syako syako 8 years
and it's not misinformation. it's factual information based on his votes which are PUBLIC information.
syako syako 8 years
what is wrong with knowing how someone votes in the senate jill?
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