Who's the real flip-flopper? Obama or McCain?
The Republicans and political pundits of all stripes have been dumping on Barack Obama for his decision to opt out of public financing for the general election and to thus avoid the spending limits that come with it. He has abandoned his earlier pledge to preserve the publicly subsidized restrictions on election spending.
The reason is his extraordinary but unexpected success in raising enormous sums through small-bore donations on the Internet.
Obama now rejects public election funding, he says, as a means to contend with the Republicans' ability to raise money through separate party funds and through such sleazy shadow groups known as the 527s. One such group was the notorious Swift Boaters, who were instrumental in Sen. John Kerry's defeat four years ago.
Sen. John McCain has joyfully attacked Obama as a flip-flopper for abandoning the public election financing law which McCain himself helped enact.
But Obama is an amateur as a flip-flopper, compared to McCain. Moreover, Obama's switch on public election financing is certainly not as significant as McCain's ideological reversals.
In his second bid for the Presidency, the Arizona Republican senator, once regarded as a fiscal and social moderate, has embraced the Bush Administration's reactionary economic and social policies.
McCain opposed the Administration's 2001 tax cuts because, he argued, they favored the rich. Now he intends to retain the tax reductions if elected President, and will seek further tax cuts that will benefit high-income tax-payers.
After opposing reductions in capital-gains taxes, McCain voted in favor of them in 2005. The following year he voted to repeal the estate tax, a measure that he had also formerly rejected.
During the 2000 election race, McCain denounced Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, Religious Right movement leaders, as "agents of intolerance." Now he vigorously seeks the support of Evangelical Christian right-wingers.
Once an outspoken critic of corporate influence in Washington, he initially retained a staff of powerful Washington lobbyists to run his Presidential campaign. Only after widespread criticism of the lobbyist's prominent role did McCain reluctantly dump a few of them.
In short, McCain is pandering to the very same special interests that he once opposed so fiercely.
And Obama is a flip-flopper?