So now The New York Times frets — as I have — that once he got the nomination, Barack Obama has been making u-turns and right turns as he rejects public financing, embraces the Supreme Court’s gun decision, criticizes the Supreme Court on the death penalty, and flip-flops on FISA. (Oh, and I forgot, as he endorses “faith-based initiatives.” Here, alone, we see a helluva compilation of Constitutional views on guns, unreasonable search and seizure, capital punishment, and separation of church and state. He taught con law — let’s look up some of his old lectures, someone, please.)
I don’t want to — I really don’t want to — say I told you so. But this is what I feared from him: that his empty rhetoric was the mark of high cynicism in politics (if I get get them to buy this hot air without saying anything then I can do anything I need to do to get elected… though he’s not even letting what he has said stop him from flipping). My other fear is that he is unproven and could be Jimmy Carter, and given the clumsiness of his dash from left to middle — overshooting the mark and ending up too far to the right for The Times’ comfort — I’d say he’s not looking so smooth right now.
So what is it you can believe in with Obama? What is change? Answer me that.
Oh, I’m stuck voting for him. So are his cultists who are now protesting his moves; they’re really trapped. But this is what I feared.
Says The Times:
We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.
There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.
He’s just a politician.
: LATER: In the comments, Fred Wilson is making what is now becoming a common argument: he’s doing what he has to do to win: “I feared he wasn’t tough and polished and skilled. These moves show that he is.” Hear Eric Alterman saying the same thing: “I don’t know what he really believes in his heart.” Read Mike Tomasky saying the same thing: “It’s acceptable – and necessary – for Barack Obama to compromise his liberal principles in order to get elected…. I’ve always objected to setting up principle as a value that’s oppositional to winning. To me, winning is a principle. It’s the highest principle there is.”
So move on, folks, there’s nothing to believe in here. Change? What change? Chump change. Plus ça etc.
Well, since everyone’s abandoning principle for expediency, even though I disagree with the Obama supporters who are criticizing him on FISA — I actually support his stand — I will celebrate how they are holding his feet to the fire on his own principles and I’ll say what we need in particpatory democracy is more folks like them and fewer who are willing to throw aside principle for power, means for the end. That is politics the old way. That is what we were promised would be changing. In the immortal word of another blogger: Heh.
: LATER STILL: In my recitation of Obama’s flipping and sidling, I forgot to include his possible rethinking on Iraq. Here, again, I agree with him — he should reconsider dates and deadlines based on reality; I’ve said that all along (and so did Hillary). But this, too, will piss off the loyalists who got him where he is.
: And the Kossaks are restless. In response to Obama’s statement — which acknowledges the revolt brewing under his own wing at MyBarackObama.com — comments include:
The only explanation for his Oct 2007 FISA stance? Principle. He stood to gain nothing otherwise from it.
The only explanation for his current stance? Political necessity.
The only problem? It’s not necessary. We’re getting played, here, folks. This explanation is crap. He’s using several of the very same frames used by other capitulators and moderate Rs.
We’re. Getting. Played.
But other Kossaks are sounding like the robot on Lost in Space: Does not compute. Does not compute.
One complains: “Has this site always been so insane or has it really, really jumped the shark recently? I don’t belong here anymore.” Another adds: “That’s how I feel Like I don’t belong with the net roots anymore. Even TPM has been hammering Obama.”
And just as in every cult I’ve covered (and I covered them in my San Francisco newspaper days), paranoia emerges: “This is another ‘operation chaos’ style invasion to create a wedge among Obama’s supporters. The sad part is that Markos from Kos and Arianna from Huffpost, indirectly sparked the idea when they criticized FISA. While criticism and accountability should be welcome, those in a position of influence such as Ko and Arianna should use it more responsibly, knowing that Rove, Limbaugh and right-wing nuts are out there ready and desperate to use any tactic to diminish O’s support base.” The cult is cracking. They always do.