CRP Blog

Friday, July 11, 2008

Obama Takes Change To New Levels as he Changes His Positions

At a time when he still needs to define himself in the eyes of voters, Barack Obama is making his own task more difficult as he changes positions on key issues.

Morton Kondracke put it this way:

Maybe the biggest question of the 2008 presidential campaign is "Who is Sen. Barack Obama really?" Of late, the mystery is deepening. It’s customary for presidential candidates to move to the center for the general election after they’ve pandered to their party’s base in the primaries - but the Illinois Democrat has claimed not to be your customary candidate, but someone who was going to usher in a new politics. He has eloquently promised "change we can believe in," but lately he’s changing his tune on so many issues it’s becoming a legitimate question: Can voters really believe in him?

Obama’s promise to meet with various thug dictators from rogue states without preconditions was widely panned as a sign of either naivete or profound weakness, and he has since tried to distance himself from that position.

At first he tried to defend it, claiming that America should not be "afraid" to meet with the guys running North Korea, Iran, or other troublemakers. That's little more than political spin. President Bush, President Clinton, the elder President Bush, President Reagan, etc. were not "afraid" to meet with leaders of rogue states, but rather they understood that to meet with them without any preconditions is to strengthen their position by conferring upon them the additional prestige and influence that comes from just being in the same room with the President of the United States (and photographers, of course), an effect clearly not in the interest of the United States, or those people back home who are oppressed by the regimes these leaders represent.

Obama's verbiage when it comes to his changing position on Iraq is interesting to follow too. Having successfully outmaneuvered his rival Hillary Rodham Clinton (who voted to authorize the offensive action against Saddam Hussein) in appealing to his party's rabidly anti-war far left, Obama’s demand for a 16 month timetable for surrender (oh, sorry, timetable for withdrawal before victory) proved useful. Now, of course, he's faced with trying to make that pie-in-the-sky position work, which he can't.

So now it's time to change his position. Yet, the candidate of "change" won’t use that word when it comes to his position on Iraq. Instead, he uses the synonym "refine." Doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it? "Refine we can believe in?" No. And that’s the point -he's attempting to nuance a change in his position without calling it as much. Good luck with that one.

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