It’s Not a Flip-Flop If You Get It Right

Filed in Delaware, National by on May 12, 2012

Cross-posted from Newsworks

What is the definition of a flip-flopper?

It’s interesting to explore the origin of the term. Famed New York Times columnist William Safire wrote about a U.S. politician in the late 19th century who was refereed to as “the Florida flopper” by an opponent. Safire noted that the “fl” sound appearing twice is an indication of ridicule, which is why “flip-flop” rolls off politicians’ tongues so nicely.

Safire also noted that the doubling of the sound worked well in other two-word phrases used to disparage someone, including “wishy-washy” and “higgledy-piggledy”.

Ironically, those are all words I would have used to describe President Obama’s over-calculated and highly-political stand on Gay Marriage prior to this week. Obama, who once came out in support of gay marriage before deciding to run for the U.S. Senate, had let politics get in the way of his personal beliefs, even as society’s acceptance of same-sex unions has changed drastically.

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About the Author ()

Rob Tornoe is a local cartoonist and columnist, and can be seen in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Press of Atlantic City, The News Journal, and the Dover Post chain of newspapers. He's also a contributor to Media Matters and WHYY. Web site: Twitter: @RobTornoe

Comments (3)

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  1. cassandra m says:

    Love this cartoon and love this essay, Rob. While I’m glad that Obama came back to the right side of this issue, I’m really cynical of the narrative here that somehow Joe Biden pushed him into this. For weeks ahead of this there was alot of press about how there might be a crisis in the Democratic platform development, where the writers were likely to include a plank in favor of marriage for all in spite of the Administration’s official stand. When I first heard of Biden’s “gaffe” right after all of this play on the 2012 platform, I thought that this was the signal that something would change.

    That said, I am still glad he changed his mind on this and am glad that Biden gets to carry the spear for change. Given the way the media has played this thing this week, the entire business was very well played. But that is the Cynical Me speaking and I could very well be wrong on this.

  2. JJ says:

    Obama was for gay marriage as a state senator. Then against it when he ran for President, and now for it after 4 years in office.
    Why is it ‘evolving’ for him and not crass poltiical expediency just to raise big bucks and motivate his base due to horrible economy?
    I guess this is the criticism thats hes too cautious on too many issues.

  3. Jefferson says:

    Every human being changes views over time. The problem with Romney is he has been on both sides of every major issue during his career.