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VOL. 110 | NO. 83 | Friday, April 26, 1996

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04-26 Govt analys Flip-flop: not just a rubber sandal anymore By MIKE CARPENTER Special to The Daily News With summer fast approaching, I am reminded of growing up in a small town where every child had a brand new $1, Kmart-purchased pair of flip-flops. Flip-flops had a dual purpose: protecting small childrens feet from jagged rocks as they waded in the creek and warding rare strains of foot fungus from the showers at summer camp. Today, a flip-flop is not just an unattractive rubber sandal. Unfortunately, a flip-flop is a technique used by too many politicians that involves drastically changing ones position for perceived political gain. For example, in 1988 presidential candidate George Bush declared, "Read my lips, no new taxes." Less than half way through his first term, he agreed to one of the largest tax increases in American history a flip-flop that cost him a second term. Of course, the master of the flip-flop is President Clinton, whose positions change drastically on a daily basis, much like the weather in Memphis. It used to be that political operatives began to drool when a rival campaign was caught in a flip-flop because it used to mean sure death to a campaign whose credibility could be easily called into question. However, in recent years, the voting public it seems has become more forgiving of political flip-flops, especially in their own back yards. Maybe thats why weve seen more flip-flops than normal as this election cycle approaches. Let me refresh your memory. Congressman Harold Ford declared he would not run for re-election. Then he announced he would. Now, hes not going to run again. Would any of us be surprised if he flip-flopped once again? Rep. Ed Haley announced (at least to his close friends) that he would not seek re-election. Haleys friend Charles Griffin announced his candidacy and invested a large sum of money only to be informed a short time later that Haley had changed his mind and would seek re-election. Who could forget Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesens declaration that he was satisfied just being the mayor of Nashville and would not run for governor a promise he made before Nashville school children. We know the rest of the story. Most recently, Rep. Tim Joyce announced he would not run for re-election after being arrested a second time for DUI. Less than one month later, he re-opened the door and stated that he might reconsider. These are only a few of the literally volumes of examples of political flip-flops. Many will argue that these are simply individuals who changed their minds, and we all have a right to do that. Even small, flip-flop wearing, creek-wading kids know the difference between changing your mind and flip-flopping like a fish out of water. Of course they dont call it flip-flopping. They call breaking a promise, not keeping your word, talking out of both sides of your mouth or just plain lying something weve all had a good whupin for. Kids who keep their word are trustworthy, can be counted on and are rewarded by loyalty from their playmates. Those who dont are ostracized. How about a similar application for politicians who flip-flop? This article represent the opinions of the author, Mike Carpenter, who is an account executive with WestRogers and a former Republican campaign manager.

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