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