The flip-flops of Carol Moseley Braun.

Politics and policy.
Sept. 10 2003 4:28 PM

The Flip-Flops of Carol Moseley Braun

What she said then. What she says now. What happened.

1_123125_123011_2076278_2083790_030617_carolmosleybraun

Slate continues its short features on the 2004 presidential candidates. Previous series covered the candidates' biographies, buzzwords, agendas, worldviews, best moments, and worst moments. This series assesses the candidates' purported flip-flops. Here are two switches commonly attributed to Carol Moseley Braun—and the context her critics leave out.

Flip: On Nov. 4, 1998, the day after Braun lost her Senate seat to Peter Fitzgerald, the Chicago Tribune asked her whether she would ever run for public office again. She replied,"Read my lips: Not. Never. Nein. Nyet."

Flop: Braun is now running for president.

Context: Swearing off politics the day after you've lost an election is like swearing off dating the day after you've been dumped. It's hardly fair to hold someone accountable to what she says at such a moment, particularly when it pertains to no policy question and to no other person.

Braun said repeatedly in 2003 that she decided to run for president because others had urged her to get in. Donna Brazile, Al Gore's 2000 campaign manager, told the Washington Post in 2003 that she had encouraged Braun to run.

Flip: On Feb. 18, 2003, Braun said she supported the NAACP's boycott of South Carolina for flying the Confederate battle flag on state grounds. The Tribune reported that Braun "said she would honor the NAACP's economic boycott of the state by staying in private homes while campaigning in South Carolina."

Flop: According to the Tribune, Braun simultaneously "acknowledged that it would be impossible to campaign [in South Carolina] without spending money."

Context: Braun agreed with the NAACP position that the Confederate battle flag was a divisive and inappropriate symbol. Her pledge to stay at private homes rather than to spend money for lodging in South Carolina was no different from John Edwards' position. And opposing Confederate symbols is one of the few issues on which Braun can genuinely claim to have led.

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

Avi Zenilman is a former Slate intern.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 20 2014 1:50 PM Why We Shouldn’t Be Too Sure About the Supposed Deal to Return the Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 20 2014 3:12 PM Terror Next Door Prudie advises a letter writer whose husband is dangerously, violently obsessed with the neighbors.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.