The media are suddenly awash in stories about Donald Trump being a flip-flopper.
And there is a deep divide over whether this renders him a prevaricator or a pragmatist.
The knee-jerk press reaction to any politician branded with the flipper label is that the person is inconsistent and insincere, lacking a core set of principles.
In Trump’s case, there’s a scolding quality to the coverage: He promised to do all this crazy stuff in the campaign, now he’s had a collision with reality.
Never mind that every president has to abandon certain promises when confronted with the challenges of being commander-in-chief. Barack Obama said he would close Gitmo, and it’s still open. And by the way, Obama was opposed to gay marriage when he ran in 2008. But the spate of Trumpian reversals in the last 10 days is being portrayed as head-spinning.
At the same time, many journalists and commentators are welcoming Trump’s change of heart on a spate of key issues. He is moving in a more moderate direction, which is precisely what they want. He is putting his presidency more in line with the Washington consensus, which is exactly what they had hoped for.
Here’s a rule of thumb: When an office-holder flips toward what the media deem a more extreme position, he is pandering or selling out. When the official flips toward a more moderate stance, he is growing and evolving.