The Power of Changed Minds

Should any Republican step to any microphone and announce he has changed his mind on global warming, the press will hail him as a hero. He has taken new evidence, processed it, and changed his mind. Should any Republican do the same on gay marriage, tax increases, or a host of other matters, the same will happen.


The media heralds changed minds, particularly when the mind changed is to the right of center and the change moves the person to the left of center. The ability to process new data, reinterpret existing data, and reach different conclusions has value to the press and Washington pundits.

A few months ago, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would not support a campaign to bomb the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He did not see it was in the American national interest. In the past few weeks, he has changed his mind.

Listening to Senator Rand Paul being interviewed by radio host Glenn Beck last week, one must appreciate the clarity of mind he had in changing his position. When he said he would not support bombing ISIS, they had not beheaded two Americans. They had not encroached on and threatened American consulates and embassies in the Middle East.

As the senator said to Glenn Beck, they are now a very clear threat to the United States. At the time he did not support attacking them, they had not shown themselves to be a clear threat to the United States. New data supported a new position. In particular, said the senator, it would be hypocritical and inconsistent to question why Hillary Clinton did not protect our consulate in Benghazi while he maintained a position of not protecting our consulate in Iraq. We must protect our consulates, embassies, and citizens.

The senator is right. Given what ISIS is now doing, we should annihilate them. It was deeply humorous to watch many in the Washington pundit class who value changed minds ridicule Senator Paul for daring to change his mind.


Contrast Senator Paul’s changed mind with that of President Obama. We are in the mess we are in because of Barack Obama’s pride. The President rose to national prominence campaigning against the war in Iraq. He was desperately eager to get every American soldier out of Iraq. Many people, including former President George W. Bush, warned that if we pulled our soldiers out of Iraq too quickly, the power vacuum would be filled by terrible people intent on doing the Middle East and us a great deal of harm.

That is exactly what happened. The headlines at the time declared that Iraqi politicians did not want us to stay and would not give our soldiers immunity. Therefore, according to the Obama Administration, we had to leave and do so quickly. Subsequent reports and interviews with Iraqi leaders painted a different picture. According to those reports, the Obama Administration wanted to make it difficult for us to stay. The President wanted an excuse to pull all the troops out.

Now ISIS spans the greater portion of Syria and Iraq. Christians and Yazidi are on the verge of annihilation through a ruthless genocide. Two Americans have had their heads severed from their bodies. The Iraqi soldiers keep falling back. ISIS has captured military bases and with them our weaponry. The cancer continues to spread.

President Obama, however, believes we can use Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. These rebels have been fighting Syria’s government and there are no guarantees they would use our money and weapons to shift their target. Likewise, many of them just agreed to a ceasefire with ISIS in order to focus on ending the Assad regime in Syria.


But President Obama has been unable and unwilling to take the new data and change his mind. Just last Wednesday he again reiterated there would be no ground troops in Iraq. So wedded is he to his original anti-war stance, he cannot see the world has shifted under his feet. “Pride cometh before the fall,” reads scripture. Sadly, it will not just be Barack Obama falling because of his pride. Many, many others will fall too.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



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