In the run-up to the recent de bate, George Bush got a lot of mileage out of labelling John Kerry a flip-flopper. But the prez has done some major flopping and flipping himself. In fact, he has a long history of taking on big tasks, flopping utterly and then somehow flipping those flops to his greatest advantage. So let it be said: Bush is a flop-flipper, one of the best of all time.
The progress of Dubya's flop-flips can be easily traced. As a young man he quickly ran his first business, an oil company, into the ground, losing loads of money for loads of people. But the Saudis came in and had Bush back on his feet in no time. Bush the flop-flipper was born.
Four years ago he ran for president - and lost. Bush had flopped again. But only for about an hour. Soon he brought all his resources together in a big rush of flip power, and the decision was overturned. But the victory cost him dearly. For a long time afterward he was flip-challenged and had to retire a lot to the ranch to recuperate.
That created the atmosphere for his next big flop: 9/11. Bush's guardianship of the national safety was one big disgraceful flop. He was caught reading My Pet Goat, staring off into space while the nation burned. But there was an inverse effect. Bush's flip energy seemed to grow. From the flipside of Incurious George emerged George the Scourge, the War President. No one has ever so masterfully flipped such a massive flop so quickly. Bush knew then that he was world-class: a flop-flipper of historic proportions.
But he was getting cocky. The flip power brings a certain drunkeness as it crests. Having flipped his own flops so masterfully, he took it upon himself to flip his father's flops, too. And so OediBush went in to kick his dad's bag in Baghdad - and that's when tragedy turned Hydra. Every flipped flop bred seven more bloody flops.
Bush's energy policy - a flop. Job creation an utter flop. But Bush just kept flipping his spatula like a chef at a particularly bloody Texas barbecue, overturning decisions, upending processes, unwriting the Constitution, reversing laws, reading the Bible - backwards.
Time started to reverse on him. That's why he sees things getting better - he sees the fire bursting back into the bomb, life bleeding back into the dead. He really does think Rumsfeld's doing a superb job.
But like all Bizarro phenomena, the flip energy has its undoing in the mirror of truth. His opposite, Kerry, must continue to be a flip-flopper. But when the two men stood face to face in the first debate, Kerry wouldn't co-operate. Stripped of his flip power, Bush sank into a deeper and deeper flop sweat. He kept trying to say words in flip mode, hence the Saddam/Osama mix-ups. Hence "mexed missages" and other malapropisms.
Who knows where it goes from here? Will the big spatula come down from the sky and flip even this big flop? And the next and the next? My hope is that election day will present him with a flop so utterly incontestable that Bush the flop-flipper will be stopped once and for all. That, by the way, has always been my position, and I've never wavered from it.
Robert Priest's latest book is How To Swallow A Pig.