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When a Flip-Flop Becomes an “Evolution”

Question: When does a flip flop become an evolution? Answer: When the flip-flop leads to a liberal outcome.

I have in mind the omnipresent use by the media of President Obama’s “evolution” on gay marriage. In fact, this evolution was a rather jagged one.

As it’s been pointed out on this web site before, in 1996, Obama said he supported gay marriage. Then, in 2004, he said he opposed gay marriage. He reiterated that stand in 2008. Then, after Obama was elected president, he was neutral on the subject. And now that he’s (re)-embraced his position from more than 15 years ago, the press – using precisely the word Obama does to describe his shifting stance – says the president has “evolved.” As in “became more enlightened.”

To take the important point made by Jonathan on Mitt Romney and abortion in a slightly different direction, here’s a thought experiment. Assume that a decade-and-a-half ago Romney opposed same sex marriage. Then, running for office in Massachusetts, he embraced same-sex marriage. But now, running for president, he announced he once again opposes gay marriage. Do you think the press would describe his position as having “evolved”? Or would the word “benighted” more accurately reflect the tone and spirit of the media’s coverage of Romney?

Just wondering.



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