The current kerfuffle about whether President Obama his violated the War Powers Act with respect to our operations in Libya brings back memories of his 2007 statements that appear to be a direct contradiction of the way he is acting now.
Back then, Obama was concerned that the President not act unilaterally. Now he appears to be doing exactly this. Meanwhile the political parties have switched roles. Republicans are demanding a level of accountability they never required from George W. Bush, and Democrats (never as united as Republicans) are relatively muted in their criticism of President Obama. That is, relative to their full-throated criticisms of President Bush.
And so it goes. We all pretend that the parties actually have differences, but the imperatives of the President's office narrow how any President behaves. Obama was speaking as a constitutional lawyer in 2007, now he speaks as President. So it is no wonder that his viewpoint has changed, even if this is "flip flopping."
That whole flip flopping critique is stupid anyway. The premise is that people are never permitted to have life experiences that would cause them to change their minds. What a lame life that would be.
I like the fact that our Libyan operation has been framed in humanitarian terms. The Iraq operation was framed as a vital security matter, but this was so obviously a lie that eventually humanitarian concerns became the rationale. Let's lead with humanitariasm, as Leon Wieseltier has argued for years.
That said, Obama is playing a semantic game in arguing that we are not engaged in hostilities in Libya and thus he is not bound by the War Powers Act. Congress has a right to be miffed, even if the outrage is theatrical more than principled. There are real Constitutional issues at stake here, but nobody should get huffy about "flip flopping." Changing one's mind remains the best evidence that you actually thinking.