Flip-Flopping as a Sign of Leadership

09/28/2005 12:02 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

President Bush just flip-flopped. And that's a good thing.
After 9/11, all he asked of us was to shop and "get down to Disney World." Now, I know the lines at EPCOT can be pretty long, but that wasn't exactly a taxing request. 
But now, post-Katrina and Rita, he's asking us to sacrifice our love of the open road and start to conserve fuel. Of course, Bush being Bush, he didn't put it quite that succinctly. "I mean," he said on Monday, "people just need to recognize that these storms have caused disruption, and that if they're able to, you know, maybe not drive when they -- on a trip that's not essential, that would be helpful." The point is, however convoluted his delivery, he was making a good point. And a very un-Bushian one. So does that make him a flip-flopper? Or does it make him a leader willing not to stay the course when that's the right thing to do? I say it's both -- flip-flopping as a sign of leadership (what do you say, Karl?).
But if the president is serious about this leadership thing, he's got to go all the way. It's not enough to ask us to conserve; he also needs to be willing to upset his pals in the oil and car industries by demanding that fuel-efficiency standards be raised. (The energy bill he signed in August once again failed to increase mileage standards for passenger cars.) Doing so would result in the greatest conservation of fuel achievable with a single legislative act. Increasing mileage standards for SUVs and light trucks by just one mile per gallon a year for five years would save America one million barrels of oil a day by 2020.
So what do you say, Mr. President -- how about showing true leadership by taking your newfound commitment to conservation all the way?
P.S.:  And more to the point, what do you say, Karl?
P.P.S.: And if you decide to do a Nixon Goes to China, why not go all the way and launch a Manhattan Project for energy independence?
P.P.P.S: But please, Mr. President, don't do what your vice president did with his White House energy task force and only invite your energy industry cronies to serve on it.