Flip-Flopping, John McCain, and Creationism
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
With their short term focus on the state primaries, GOP candidates are jockeying for favor from the right wing of the Republican party, and somewhere Democratic strategists are probably smiling.
It all adds up to major framing ammo for the general election, especially on the dimension of credibility, a theme that the GOP has long used against Democratic candidates like John Kerry, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton.
As an example of the self-inflicted wounds that GOP candidates are scoring, consider John McCain. I like the Arizona Senator, and I admire his leadership on climate change, but you have to cringe at some of the things he is doing with his campaign.
First McCain said we shouldn't "pander to the agents of intolerance" like Jerry Falwell, then he spoke at Falwell's Liberty University.
First McCain said the Confederate flag was deeply offensive and a symbol of racism and slavery, and then he said he saw the flag as a symbol of heritage.
First he decried the dirty smear tactics of the people behind the 2004 Swift Vote Veterans for Truth ad campaign, and then he goes and hires the same team in "arming up" for his 2008 Presidential run.
AND NOW, while McCain argues against so-called climate skeptics who distort the science on global warming, he also goes and speaks at the Discovery Institute, the think tank behind intelligent design-creationism and the PR Wedge strategy.
I can just hear the Democratic speeches and political ads now: "When are we going to get some 'straight talk' from John McCain? When are we going to get some examples of integrity?"
As importantly, considering the propensity of McCain and other GOP candidates like Mitt Romney to "change with the political winds," is it time to do away with the tired label of "flip-flopper" that so many Republicans like to use against Democratic candidates?
Documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald thinks so. The brain behind OutFoxed has launched a series of short YouTube films designed to expose the strategies of the right in the build up to the 2008 campaign. Below you can watch his brilliant "The Real John McCain," but make sure you also catch his short film on how Fox News is trying to negatively and unfairly define Barak OBama for their viewers.
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