I watched a long TV discussion between Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the house, and E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist. Dionne would review various political ideas and classify them as “liberal” or “neo conservative”. He didn’t discuss the goodness or badness of the ideas, he just attempted to label the ideas he liked “liberal” and the ideas he didn’t like as “neo-conservative”. Newt did somewhat better, he did try to bring the debate around to real things, such as the decision to disband the Iraqi army, but Dionne wasn’t having any. He didn’t want to talk about the merits of ideas; he just wanted the viewers to agree with his ideas about good and bad. In short, Dionne was not willing to reach out to voters and citizens and appeal to their heads. He appeals to their partisanship.
So do all the TV talking heads who use the phrase “flip flop”. They are not attacking the ideas on the merits; they are accusing the speaker of going back on his sworn word. So does Obama when he rails against “Bush’s third term”. If he doesn’t like ideas, why not explain why he doesn’t like them?