Some questions to get us started -- which past presidential candidate stood in front of a coal plant, pointed at it and said "This plant kills." The candidate later shut down the plant.
Barack Obama, right? Wrong, it was Mitt Romney. (Here's an article that explains the context and verifies the accuracy of the statement from the fact-checkers at Politifact.)
How many times do you think Romney's statements appeared in a local editorial? I tried a number of search engines including the one on their site and could not find any. By the time Romney became the Republican nominee for president in 2012, he had changed his mind and yet there was no mention of his major change in attitude toward coal plants. To use political jargon, Romney had "flip-flopped" on the harms of coal and yet this was never an issue for the local "newspapers."
Contrast that with the answer to a similar question: who said "we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." Of course, that's Hillary Clinton and I've found six mentions of the quote in local "newspapers." No matter that the quote is a bit out of context (see NPR's fact-checker here for an explanation) or that she later elaborated on her answer.
I mention all of this because of yesterday afternoon's News-Register editorials: one dealt with the presidential candidates and their energy policies and the other, the Tran-Pacific Partnership. The shorter TPP editorial attacked the president's trade policies and noted that both presidential candidate oppose the trade agreement. Along the way, the editorial points out that Clinton has changed her position on it:
Actually, for Clinton, the situation is that she opposed it after she supported it as secretary of state in the Obama administration.
I think the editorial is suggesting that despite the fact that both candidates now have essentially the same position on TPP, we should question Clinton because she has changed her mind. (The editorial doesn't say it, but she's a "flip-flopper.")
Why call out Clinton when Romney's change was never mentioned? I think the answer can be found in the entry for "flip-flop" in the "Ogden Newspaper Propaganda Manual":
A flip-flop is an abrupt reversal in position or policy by a Democrat. Note -- the term should never be applied to a Republican. See also Kerry, John.
Yesterday's lead editorial, "Choice Is Clear On Energy Policy," gives us the rationale for supporting Trump in the upcoming election:
But on one issue of over-riding importance here - energy - the difference is a night and day thing: Trump supports us. Clinton does not.
Interesting position and no mention of a major Trump flip-flop even though his opinions seem to regularly change on all sorts of issues. Here's a bit of history from a recent article in the Atlantic:
In the autumn of 2009, climate-concerned Americans held out hope that progress might be made at the United Nations’ annual climate conference, planned for December in Copenhagen. The new president, Barack Obama, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be attending. It was the first time in eight years that a U.S. administration had recognized the reality of climate change.
The story continues:
It was in that environment that, in late November, a full-page ad appeared in The New York Times. The ad, an open letter, called on President Obama and Congress to finally pass legislation restricting greenhouse-gas emissions.
“We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today,” it read. “If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”
Below that text were 55 names. They included squishily liberal executives and various other famous people, like the CEOs of Patagonia, Timberland, Blue Man Group, and Chipotle; and Deepak Chopra, Martha Stewart, Kenneth Cole, and Ben and Jerry.
Someone else was on that list, too: Donald J. Trump, and his three children. That’s right: The Republican nominee for president supported urgent climate action before he opposed it.
Here's some additional analysis from Grist's Ben Adler and Rebecca Leber who broke the original story:
In every conceivable way, the letter contradicts Trump’s current stance on climate policy. On the campaign trail, Trump has said he is “not a big believer in man-made climate change.” Last fall, after Obama described climate change as a major threat to the United States and the world, Trump said that was “one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever heard in politics — in the history of politics as I know it.”
The 2009 ad also argues that a shift to clean energy “will spur economic growth” and “create new energy jobs.” But these days, Trump contends that U.S. action to limit greenhouse gas emissions would put the country at a competitive disadvantage. In 2012, he went so far as to claim: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Has he flip-flopped? Of course he has but he's allowed -- he's a Republican.