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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?


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