In 2000, Bush said he would include carbon dioxide on a list of air pollutants requiring federal oversight, a stand he abandoned within weeks of taking office. A month after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush's spokesman said the president believed a homeland security department that Democrats proposed was "just not necessary." A year after that, Bush had switched course and was lashing some Democrats for not moving quickly enough to approve the agency.
While Bush professes himself a strong free-trader, most other free-trade proponents said he bent on principle in March 2002 when he ordered tariffs on imported steel -- a move that resonated politically in electorally important industrial states such as Pennsylvania. Facing an escalating global trade dispute, he lifted the tariffs at the end of last year.
In some cases, Democrats say, Bush's position stays the same even as his reasons flip. The most famous examples involve taxes and Iraq. He supported tax cuts in 2000 because he said they were affordable in a time of large government surpluses, and once in power he supported them amid rising deficits because he said the economy needed stimulation. The president's principal rationale for the Iraq invasion was to end Baghdad's suspected mass-weapons program and links to international terrorism. In the absence of compelling evidence of these, the main post-invasion rationale has been to rescue Iraq from a tyrant and support democracy in the greater Middle East.