New flip-o-meter

Seeing Barack Obama backtrack on the issue of drilling for oil off the coasts has reignited a simmering debate — when is a politician a “flip-flopper” and when is he/she merely responding to improved intelligence? A few years ago, when I was writing Polinaut, I challenged legislators to describe the last time they had their mind changed by a conversation with a constituent? None did.

If there’s one label that’s been known to stick to a politician — flip-flopper is it.

Now, the St. Petersburg Times has today introduced the Flip-O-Meter:

Barack Obama was accused of flip-flopping on public financing, warrantless wiretaps and offshore drilling. John McCain supposedly flip-flopped on drilling and the Bush tax cuts. During the primary campaign, flipping charges were leveled against Hillary Clinton (torture policy), Bill Richardson (Iraq) and Mitt Romney (abortion).

We checked those accusations at the time and rated them on our trusty Truth-O-Meter. But after checking so many flip-flop allegations, especially lately, we realized they have become a major part of the campaign discourse. We decided that PolitiFact needed a new device to tell readers when a candidate had truly flipped.

The Flip-O-Meter was born.

Candidates are rated from “full-flop” to “half-flip.” Find it here.

Tangent Time: “Flip-flop explored” (Grammar Grater)