Michael Scherer discusses America's flip-flop obsession:

The core message of the Obama/DNC campaign is that McCain has flip-flopped on all his old maverick image. The key message of the McCain/RNC campaign is that Obama is an opportunist who will flip-flop when it helps him politically. And so it goes. Every day, flip-flop charges bang up against the political press like moths on a screen door. And we let some of them in, sometimes with the unexamined conceit that any shift in position is a window into the candidate's lack of character, toughness or principle.

It's often a completely idiotic way to analyze a candidate. Sometimes a flip-flop is a sign of real maturity in a politician responding to new events or facts. And sometimes, rigid consistency is disastrous. If Bush had flip-flopped on the Iraq occupation two years earlier, the world would be a much better place. And if he'd flip-flopped on torture and detention after the initial panicked over-reach, he would have been spared an awful and self-defeating ordeal.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.