We all understand that politicians will be political, emphasizing one point to one audience and another point to another audience. We also understand that people's views can genuinely change, including the views of politicians.
But when a political leader completely flip-flops on issues and then flip-flops again, the trustworthiness of that leader must be questioned.
Does Donald Trump fit the description of a double-minded, untrustworthy leader?
Judge for yourself.
Trump claims that his views on abortion changed based on personal experience.
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, even though, at best, he is still not a strong, consistent pro-life candidate.
He has also taken a more negative stance on gay issues than he did in the past (although at no time did he fully support same-sex "marriage"). Is this simply a calculated political shift in order to win the Republican nomination?
Perhaps, but once again, let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Although here too, he is hardly an articulate champion of conservative moral values.
Other shifts in his views cannot be so easily explained.
Let's consider Trump's views on Hillary Clinton.
As TIME magazine reported July 17, 2015, last year Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton the "worst secretary of state in the history of the United States," and a "desperate" and "sad" candidate.
Trump's insults this year have gotten even worse, to the point of him calling Hillary's bathroom break during a presidential debate "disgusting." And that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Trump is also renting out a theater in Iowa so voters can see the new movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi for free. According to a Trump spokesperson, "Mr. Trump would like all Americans to know the truth about what happened at Benghazi."
Contrast this with Trump's comments in 2007 when Hillary was running for president on the Democrat side while Rudy Giuliani was running on the Republican side.
Trump said he was torn between them, stating, "They're both terrific people, and I hope they both get the nomination."
Yes, these were the words of Donald Trump.
Then, in 2012, he told Greta van Susteren on Fox News: "Hillary Clinton, I think, is a terrific woman. I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard. And I think, again, she's given an agenda. It is not all of her, but I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job. I like her."
As to Hillary's record as secretary of state, Trump opined on Live Leak that she probably did "above and beyond everybody else and everything else."
He also dismissed the importance of Benghazi and said that, if Hillary ran again for office, he was "sure" she would do a "good job" of defending her record as secretary of state.
Is this not a glaring example of being double-minded?
How do you trust the words of someone who one day says that Hillary did her job as secretary of state "above and beyond everybody else and everything else" and another day brands her the "worst secretary of state in the history of the United States"?
Which is his real opinion: the old one (from just a few years back) or the current one? And if his current opinion is his real opinion, why did he speak of Hillary with such praise before?
For another glaring example, consider how Trump has flipped, then flopped, then flipped again in terms of his evaluation of Ted Cruz.
On Dec. 13, 2015, Trump stated that Cruz has acted like "a little bit of a maniac" in the Senate and doesn't have "the right temperament" or "the right judgment" to be president.
Two days later, when CNN's Dana Bash asked Trump about those comments during that night's presidential debate, he replied, "Let me tell you, as I have gotten to know him over the last three or four days, he has a wonderful temperament. He's just fine, don't worry about it."
Perhaps Trump was sincere during the debate.
Perhaps the first comments were just political rhetoric and perhaps he really did get to know Cruz better and genuinely believes that "he has a wonderful temperament" and "he's just fine."
Then how do we explain Trump's comments just one month later—and a month in which Trump made significant gains in the race—blasting Cruz in even more extreme terms?
Speaking to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News on Jan. 17, Trump said of Cruz, "Look, the truth is, he's a nasty guy. ... Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him. He's a very—he's got an edge that's not good. You can't make deals with people like that, and it's not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the country. Very nasty guy."
Trump also called him "a total hypocrite."
So, what does Trump really believe?
Is Cruz "a little bit of a maniac" and "a nasty guy," a "very nasty guy" whom "nobody in Congress likes"? Or is Cruz "just fine" with "a wonderful temperament"?
Either Donald Trump is double-minded and therefore untrustworthy, or his words cannot be taken seriously, since there's no way of knowing what he really believes.
If you are one of his loyal supporters, I urge you to give this some calm, rational thought.
Can you really trust him with your vote?
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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