The hyphenated word, flip-flop, both a verb and a noun, had limited use since the 18th century. However by the 1970s, flip-flop had gained currency in political language, according to one-time political speech writer, William Safire. The word, flip-flop, was tailored to the politician who frequently changed his or her position on the issue of the day or showed sudden shifts of opinion. For example, "He (or she) had flip-flopped on the tax issue."

In what described as "flip-flop", opponents who had fallen out of favor with Mao Tse-tung had been restored back in the history book of the Chinese Communist Party. It was at an exhibition at the History Museum in Peking in October 1979. Opponents such as the chief of state Liu Shao-chi who was missing (or was doctored) in photographs, documents, accounts of the party's history and in Teng Shih-wen's 1953 painting of Mao Tse-tung's proclamation of the Communist republic on October 1, 1949.  

In the painting, Liu Shao-chi could be seen standing in the front row atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Tien An Men. The portrait also showed Premier Chou En-lai, Marshal Chu Teh, Madame Sun Yat-sen and scientist Kuo Mo-jo. Kao Kang was also shown standing next to Mao Tse-tung. Curator Wu Shu-tze spread the exhibition to over 40 rooms told the Associated Press the inclusion of Liu Shao-chi and other opponents of Mao Tse-tung reflected "a new sense of realism and honesty in the official approach to history." 

During the first 2 days of the exhibition, the museum attracted a crowd of around 30,000 people. The museum was situated near Mao Tse-tung's Mausoleum in Tien An Men Square. Mao Tse-tung's other opponents who received acknowledgement for their contributions to the history of the Chinese Communist Party were Defense Minister Lin Piao, the Soviet-trained Li Li-san, Kao Kang, a Politburo member and Peng Teh-huai who opposed the 1959 Great Leap Forward. Lin Piao was Mao Tse-tung's heir apparent who was accused of plotting to overthrow his mentor. 

Tom Vicker of the 'New York Times noted, "Political necessity is a good enough reason for a changed position; but there are at least 3 other legitimate cases: personal growth, an open mind, going national and changing circumstances." One-time presidential candidate Richard Gephardr argued, "I'd rather change and be right than rigid and be wrong."

On reflection Tom believed, "A political figure might vote or act one way at a given time, then find later on that a different situation necessitated an honest change." He pointed out, "What was Nixon's 'opening to China' but a flip-flop? But it was well justified in a changing world." David Goldstein of 'Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service' made the comment in 1999, "The political flip-flop is a staple of the campaign season and a time-honored tool to adjust to changing circumstances. But there can be severe consequences for the candidate changing positions." Tom made the point in 1988, "Campaigns aren't morality plays; they're contests. A little judicious flip-flopping is well within the rules – and often the reason why the best man wins."

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