Why “Flip-Flop”?

Some people have argued that then Bush campaign needs to get off calling Kerry a flip-flopper and go after his actual positions. Indeed, one Bush staffer told CrushKerry.com that the campaign is in the process of a long-planned October pivot to a “shock and awe”-style sudden-from-all-directions bombardment of Kerry’s liberal record in the Senate. (Link via Geraghty). But then you hear something like this from Kerry:

The president and I have the same position, fundamentally, on gay marriage. We do. Same position.

This is a perfect example of why I always thought “flip-flop” was a necessary defensive tactic – you’d rather run against Kerry’s ideas, but he’s so good at denying what he stands for, by pointing to examples of him saying or doing the opposite (“that dog won’t hunt, and let me tell you why . . .”), that it winds up being necessary to argue that he doesn’t stand for anything at all, to force him to bear the burden of proving what his position is before you try to knock it down.
Jonah Goldberg:

My favorite part of the debate last night was when Edwards mentioned how he “agreed with John Kerry on Thursday night.” You gotta love it that even John Edwards has to nail down the exact time and place that John Kerry said something he agreed with. You can’t just say “I agree with John Kerry.” That’s like saying the globule in the lava lamp is oval. Wait a minute and that will seem ridiculous. So you’ve got to nail it down.