Five Presidential Candidates Whose Beliefs Conveniently "Evolved"

From Michele Bachmann to Barack Obama, politicians who happened to change their minds at just the right time.

By Adam Bloom

1. Barack Obama: Gay Marriage

President Obama recently announced that his views on gay marriage are "evolving," but this weekend, as New York erupted into celebration over the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state, Obama, who was in Manhattan, refrained from comment. Disappointing, sure, but to a lot of people, also confusing, since they've never believed he was against gay marriage to begin with. He signed a petition supporting gay marriage way back in 1996, has close friendships with a number of partnered gay and lesbian couples, and generally, was liberal as hell 'til he took the national stage. And so, when he says "evolving," it kind of sounds like, "conveniently adapting my beliefs to the political climate." Call it pragmatism, call it hypocrisy, it's a phenomenon that takes place on both sides of the aisle. Here are four other presidential hopefuls, whose views on major issues have conveniently "evolved" since they took the national stage.

2. Michele Bachmann: Government

Michele Bachmann is the goat-eyed congresswoman from the back of America's freezer who has risen to prominence by becoming the country's foremost source for such oratory pearls as, "There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design." Back away, slowly. But, can it be that this champion of anti-scientific pseudo-religious gobbeldygook has, herself... evolved? Well, it so happens that Bachmann, after spending some time on a kibbutz, worked as an attorney for the IRS for five years before retiring to become a full-time mom. Her next job was as a Minnesota State Senator, followed by her current stint as the groan-inducingest member of Congress — and that's saying something — from which position she has become the titular leader of the Tea Party movement, a loose affiliation of wackos whose sole purpose is to denounce everything that government does. Pretty ballsy for a woman who has spent literally her entire professional life suckling at government's teat. But, I guess she changed her mind.

3. Tim Pawlenty: Cap 'n Trade

Here's another feckless Minnesota dork-face I could do without: former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty's not so much bad as intensely boring — like if middle-school social studies were a person. I imagine Pawlenty being the kind of guy you talk to at a party for five minutes, disguise a yawn, and then say, "cool, cool — listen, I'm gonna grab a drink. I'll be back," and then leave with no intention of ever making eye contact with him under any circumstances ever again. But T-Paw has a dynamic side: his views regarding the viability of a cap-and-trade greenhouse-gas emissions reduction program have evolved. That's exciting, right? Well, watch these clips. Timmy spends the first half of them smiling, bright-eyed, eagerly discussing his state's cap-and-trade program and its many willing participants, and then, at a recent Republican presidential debate, he abandons the idea like a loaded diaper: "If you've got a, uh, executive position... you're gonna have a few clunkers in your record... I just look the American people in the eye and say, ‘I made a mistake.' " Personally, I would appreciate it if he would look the American people in the eye and say, "We're cooking the planet like a microwave burrito and we need to do something about it." But, I guess he changed his mind.

4. Newt Gingrich: Libya

If I wanted to play Devil's advocate, I could say that Newt doesn't even belong on this list, because his political career has been over for at least ten years. But since he's insisting on trying to run for president, we'll keep him on here. Anyway, just because he's irrelevant doesn't mean he can't "evolve," and here's proof: before Obama decided to intervene in Libya, Newt was in favor of intervention, but after Obama decided to intervene in Libya, Newt was opposed to intervention. Oof. That turd's gonna need some polishing — especially coming from the man who once remarked, "you can't flip-flop and be commander-in-chief." Here's hoping that Newt's next evolution is from presidential candidate to private citizen who stops wasting everyone's time.

5. Mitt Romney: Health Care

It's hard to say that Mitt Romney has undergone an evolution, because he has no identity. Even Jason Bourne had a name — what does Romney have? Mitt? Mitt is a name for something you use to catch a baseball, or take cookies out of the oven. Even Sarah Palin wouldn't name a kid Mitt. But let's assume that Romney is an actual person with actual opinions, rather than what I think he is: a large, animatronic doll built to almost win elections and then lose them. If Romney is a human being, then, of this group, his evolution has been the most thorough. Despite his consistently moderate record as governor of Massachusetts, Romney ran in 2008 as a dyed-in-the-wool conservative with gorgeous hair, and is trotting out the same shtick for 2012. Pick an issue — if Romney has expressed an opinion about it, then he has also expressed the opposite opinion: campaign finance, abortion, health care, the auto bailout, the stimulus, gay marriage, stem-cell research, gun control, immigration. The only evolution left for Mitt is a sex change, and I wouldn't count him out. Assuming the amimatronics lab has the parts.

Commentarium (11 Comments)

Jun 27 11 - 12:32pm
Me

I liked Mitt's bumper stickers for '08. I think it was white text on a blue background, and it read "MITT" with something about the presidency way down in a corner. Anyone driving behind a Romney supporter thought they were a really big baseball fan.

Jun 28 11 - 12:55pm
jynn

Don't baseball fans usually have bumper stickers of their favorite teams or players? I've never seen a bumper sticker touting the driver's enthusiasm for a particular piece of equipment...

Jun 30 11 - 8:42pm
eva

I'm a huge curling fan, so my bumper sticker says "WEIRD BROOM THING"

Jun 27 11 - 1:23pm
Mustang

Not a fan of Bachmann here but I don't see her being a former tax attorney as being hyprocritical. Just because you enforce tax laws passed by a government doesn't mean you have to be a communist. I would expect some black and white law and order types might be attracted to that line of work. And on Obama, he gets a pass on this crap and it ain't right.

Jul 01 11 - 4:39am
Archie

I'm surprised at the "communist" comment. Do you expect everyone to entertain the whole Glenn Beck Kool-aid as if it's a serious political argument? Obama just helped push through a free trade agreement, and you're calling him a "communist?" You must've been dropped on your head when you were a baby or something.

That said, I agree with your other point:

See, I could see Bachman successfully spinning this as "Yes, I worked for the IRS, and while there I learned how excessive, convoluted, and harmful our tax system is!" Much like it wouldn't be unreasonable or "hypocritical" for a former cop to head up an Internal Affairs office. She could argue that she is familiar with the system (and who would argue it? By the time you start arguing about the extent of her familiarity, your time is better spent arguing over actual tax policy).

Jun 27 11 - 1:58pm
AS

"...like if middle-school social studies were a person." lol

Jun 27 11 - 2:32pm
Clw

I think that certain people do need to be held accountable, even more than others, as a result of their title. We expect people in religious organizations not to be voluptuaries, we expect law enforcement officers to obey the law even better than we do, and I think Obama as President, should be committed to the equality of all the people that he represents. This should be with all politicians. However, this rarely seems to be the case! Honestly, as a gay lady I would not get married, only to support what has excluded me and others for so long, but I think that we should be moved from a circle of exclusion to one of inclusion - the option should be there for those it holds meaning to. Homophobia stems from these sorts of exclusions, same as any anti-minority or anti-women mindsets. This, "you aren't good enough to get married/be in the church/hold this position" creates an even unconscious idea in people that there are people who are different, and in a bad way. I might be getting off topic so I'll wrap up, but the problem is that Obama is a good guy who is a better President than many the United States have seen, but he needs to stand up for what he knows is right, and truly unite the states.

Jun 27 11 - 8:10pm
GM

To sort of turn around what Groucho Marx once said, I would never vote for a candidate who would run for office. But I would vote for more of this sort of article -- funny AND sparing neither right nor left.

Jun 29 11 - 4:45pm
Eddie

Fuck you

Jun 29 11 - 6:51pm
CJ Casey

I don't know... for a magazine as smart as NERVE is when it comes to social, cultural, and sexual matters, I expect more than knee-jerk criticism of the Tea Party. Also, I've gone to lots of Tea Party rallies, and I think the only people who claim Michelle Bachman is their leader is, well, Michelle Bachman and those in the media who love repeating the wacky shit she says. (And it is wacky... I've never before been so ashamed to be from the midwest, which means she's ashamed me more than Kid Rock and Eminem did.)

Jun 29 11 - 9:39pm
itsumo

They are all douche bags. Politics is nothing more than that damn TV Show Survivor.