Waffling

During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry was described by his opponent as being a "waffler" and a "wind surfer." Some of those descriptions may have been deserved—focus groups determined far too much of what he thought. But, there are larger and more far-reaching dimensions to the subject of waffling. The GOP was once seen as being more on the side of minorities, since the Solid South, the Southern wing of the Democratic Party, was definitely racist. Until the sixties, about the only people in the South claiming to be Republicans were Negroes, as Blacks were then identified. Republicans were and remain the party of big business and the wealthy, but because Lincoln was a Republican, Blacks considered Republicans their friends. FDR brought the Northern Blacks into the Democratic Party, but because few Southern Blacks could vote, their numbers remained inconsequential. Many, if not most of them, continued to consider themselves Republicans. Richard Nixon used the Voting Rights Act as a wedge to turn the Solid Democratic (Dixiecrat) South into the Solid Republican South. That was one easy waffle for most of them. They've remained in the Republican column ever since. In fact, they are the Republican Party there. The Blacks were politely invited out. Flip, flop.

The GOP used to be the party of fiscal responsibility. They always opposed taxes, but debt they opposed even more—government borrowing was anathema to them. The last three Republican administrations have managed to turn that argument on its head, the current one turning debt into an art form. Flip, flop.

Ronald Reagan was fond of the argument that government itself was the problem. By that he meant government was too intrusive. He may have meant that it got in the way of making money, but his argument was stated more generally. The current group wants government to know our every move, and indicates that it's unpatriotic to object. If the American government has ever been more intrusive than it is now, that fact has not been recorded in the history books. Flip, flop.

The war in Iraq began as a search for weapons of mass destruction, and then waffled into a battle for regime change. It has since waffled into a war to bring democracy to the Middle East. While our brave young soldiers die to accomplish this noble feat, the rights that have made us the envy of the world have been eroded as quickly as the would-be dictator and his lemmings in Congress could manage it. So they were right. Government is the problem. The party that once touted small government as the answer now wants unlimited power, and fear has become their weapon of mass destruction. Flip, flop.

During the fifties, the Republicans were fond of calling Democrats the war party. After the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean conflict, it sold pretty well. Korea might have been forgotten were it not for Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Radar, and M*A*S*H*. It's still going on, only the shooting has stopped. Eisenhower gets credit for that. How or why we got into Vietnam is a matter of great conjecture. It began slowly with JFK, and heated up under LBJ. Dizzy Dean might have said we just "slud" into it. In any case, it started under a Democrat, enhancing the war party theme. Nixon, a Republican, got us out of it—sort of. Since then we've had Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and, again, Iraq. All four of them under Republican presidents. Another waffle. The current occupant of the White House, a Republican, has made being the warrior president his mantra. We're supposed to feel safer now with Bush, rather than the war party, in power . How's that for a waffle? Flip. flop.

There are other issues that have flip-flopped, but one of particular importance remains. During the Sixties, while church leaders were greatly involved in the Civil Rights Movement, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell stood on the sidelines. Among the many leaders who fought the good fight, Martin Luther King, Jr. is the best known, but he was joined by Catholic priests and leaders from many Protestant churches. Now that civil laws have been enacted, and have made a difference, the Republicans, with Falwell and Robertson, have adopted the morality issue, as if the next life should be an issue for government! The sad thing is, it was the Democrats who waffled on this one.

Waffling, it appears, is a sign of weakness, but only as applied to small issues—the battles, not the war. Democrats have made a significant difference in people's lives over the last seven or eight decades, but they have failed to capitalize on their accomplishments. "It's all in the selling," as they say. It's time we took back the waffles. IHOP says it best: We need people to Come hungry. Leave happy.

1 comments

Anonymous Earl Kaplan  said...

I must break the pattern. All left wing liberal rhetoric and no facts makes even a blog dull.

There are so many things to complain about; Bush isn't bright, he can't pronounce some words, he can't come up with right ones some time.

It is so easy to divert attention from the real problems of the world.

As a student of History you need to remind yourself of the 1930's dialogs between Hitler and Chamberlain and between Churchill and Chamberlain. Think about the similarities in the rhetoric put forth by the quasi-educated President of Iran and the rantings of Hitler.

World War II cost far more lives than Iraq has or will. It would have been much better had the isolationists, pacifists, and appeasers not handcuffed Roosevelt into a role he did not want to play.

9/17/2006 1:03 PM  

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