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Bush’s Waffle House
By: George E. Curry
NNPA Columnist
Originally posted 9/23/2004

When I first heard George W. Bush’s handlers call John Kerry a flip-flopper, the charge had a familiar ring. Then, I remembered that it was the first President Bush who was tagged a flip flopper. Actually, he was called a waffler. Supporters of former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, his Democratic opponent in 1988, circulated “Waffle House” menus that showed how George H.W. Bush had frequently equivocated on important issues.

At the time, I was a Washington correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and rotated between the Bush and Dukais campaign planes. It’s interesting that George W. Bush is trying to depict Kerry as a flip-flopper when he is the one who has flipped and flopped on everything from the creation of a Homeland Security Department to the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the terrorist events of September 11, 2001.

Let’s examine some of George W. Bush’s Greatest Flips.

Ari Fleischer, Bush’s press secretary at the time, said on March 19, 2002 that the president opposed the creation of a Homeland Security Department. He said, “…So, creating a cabinet office doesn’t solve the problem. You still will have agencies within the federal government that have to be coordinated…”

However, President Bush told the nation on June 6, “So tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America and protecting the American people.”

On October 10, 2000, Bush said: “If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road.” On March 6, 2003, Bush expressed support for nation-building when he stated, “We will be changing the regime of Iraq, for the good of the Iraqi people.”

On September 17, 2001, Bush, in a reference to Osama bin Laden, proclaimed, “…I want justice. And there’s an old poster out West, I recall, that says, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’” By March 13, 2000, Bush had gone from wanting Bin Laden “dead or alive” to not caring about whether he was either. “I don’t know where he is,” Bush said at a news conference. “You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him…I truly am not that concerned about him.”

In an interview on May 29, 2003, Bush claimed, “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories…for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.”

But it was Bush who was wrong. Appearing on “Meet the Press” (Feb. 7, 2004), he said that stockpiles “could have been destroyed during the war. Saddam and his henchmen could have destroyed them as we entered into Iraq. They could be hidden. They could have been transported to another country, and we’ll find out.”

The news media tracked how Bush flip-flopped on creating the 9/11 Commission.

“President Bush took a few minutes during his trip to Europe Thursday to voice his opposition to establishing a special commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before Sept. 11,” CBS News reported on May 23, 2002. On September 20, less than four months later, ABC News reported, “President Bush said today he now supports establishing an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”

In the mother of all flip flops, President Bush said on Sept. 25, 2002: “You can’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.” On Sept. 17, 2003, he was forced to concede, “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11.”

In discussing whether the U.S. can win the war on terrorism, Bush has done a double-flip.

“One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we’re asking questions, is, can you ever win the war on terror? Of course you can,” Bush said on April 13 of this year. On August 30, he reversed himself, saying: “I don’t think you can win [the war on terror].” The next day, Bush flipped yet again, saying: “Make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win [the war on terror].”

It is understandable that “W.” might not want to be labeled a “waffler” like his dad. And certainly he would not welcome a Waffle House menu citing his change in positions. But there’s nothing wrong with his being truthful and simply calling himself “I-Hop.” Just don’t pour any syrup on his stack of waffles.

George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and His most recent book is “The Best of Emerge Magazine,” an anthology published by Ballantine Books. Curry’s weekly radio commentary is syndicated by Capitol Radio News Service (301/588-1993). He can be reached through his Web site,


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