Kathryn Lopez

I hate flip-flops. That is, I hate the shoes. They're impractical. Unsafe, even. But I really hate the political use of the term, usually leveled as an accusation. It's gone from being a legitimate, shorthand descriptor to being a nonsensical dismissal. Don't dress them in the darn things, but let politicians flip-flop, already. If, of course, by "flip-flop," one means a prudent and authentic change of mind. Now, that's probably just a flip, but I guess then we'd be looking at things rationally.

The Washington Post, in fact, just recently encouraged a flip, accusing Barack Obama of a "foolish consistency" on Iraq. The Democratic Party has put itself in a position where it appears to be rooting for America's defeat in that troubled land. As the General Petraeus-led surge strategy has worked there -- a gambit the Dems heartily opposed, going to outrageous and disgraceful lengths -- they can't bring themselves to acknowledge and embrace success and adapt their outlook and platform to reflect the new reality. Obama wanted to withdraw from Iraq when it seemed a disaster and he's for withdrawing from Iraq now. A leader might take the time to look at the facts on the ground. Instead, Obama reiterated his trustworthy standby of a position before his long-anticipated trip to Iraq.

Earlier this summer, conservatives encouraged John McCain to change his stance on drilling for oil in Alaska. America needs energy security and this means we need to stop relying for oil on countries that hate us. Thankfully, he dropped his stubborn and pointless opposition to offshore oil drilling. Given high gas prices, given the public's new focus on this issue, it seemed clear that a real executive would acknowledge the new factors and plot a measured change of course. If he changed his position, truly believing the drilling would help, it would be progress, even if pushed along by the election.

The "flip-flop" accusation label hit former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hard during the Republican primary earlier this year. By the end of the cycle, most citizens knew only two things about Romney: that he was good looking and used to believe things he no longer does. What most folks didn't consider was the narrative. Did Mitt Romney change his position on gay marriage? He sure did. Did Mitt Romney go from defending legal abortion to opposing it? Absolutely. But consider how it happened:

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.