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Friday, June 27, 2008

Barack Obama's Cynical and Disingenous Lurch to the Center

We all know how the game is played. In order to win the primary, candidates lurch to the edges and then they move to the middle once they win the primary and begin the general election campaign. On that level, no one should be surprised that Barack Obama has suddenly taken on a significantly more moderate tone. On many other levels, we should start to wonder why the man the National Journal called the most liberal Senator in 2007 is now taking on a much more moderate tone on issues relating to the economy, culture, and foreign policy. What we are witnessing is a disingenuous and cynical attempt to remake himself just in time to get votes in the general. It is even more cynical still since he constantly proclaims to be above such politics.

His transformation started with this advertisement. This ad attempts to drive home the perception of a regular guy with wholesome values.

Along with an image makeover, Barack Obama began a make over of his policy positions. The first salvo was his softening on free trade. Here is how he described it to Nina Easton.

In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

"Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself," he answered.

The so called "heated rhetoric" was actually Obama making his anti free trade position a central part of his campaign in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa. Obama painstakingly pointed out that if Hillary Clinton was going to take credit for her husband's successes in office that she should also be held accountable for NAFTA.

Furthermore, Barack Obama is on record as being against CAFTA. He is also against the free trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea. In fact, he is on record as being for the nebulous concept of fair trade. Fair trade is NOT free trade. In fact, it isn't even close. Fair trade is free trade as long as all terms are in our favor. That doesn't happen in the real world and thus, fair trade is nothing more than protectionism in sheep's clothing. Thus, Obama's sudden discovery of the benefits of free trade is nothing more than a cynical attempt to win over voters in the general election.

Here is what Barack Obama recently said about free markets.

So? "There's a reason why the business community in Chicago as a whole has been very supportive of me," he says. "They know I am a pro-growth guy, and I'm a pro-market guy. And I always have been. What I do get frustrated with is an economy that is out of balance, that rewards a very few - with rewards that are all out of proportion to their actual success - while ordinary, hardworking Americans continue to get squeezed. Over the last decade or so, this economy grew substantially, and more than half of the total growth was captured by the top 1%."

Of course, he spent the entire primary campaign extolling the virtues of government action, regulations, taxes, and control. He is on record as wanting to socialize medicine. He has called for a new "regulatory framework". He wants to create a plethora of new regulations for mortgages. He wants to tax the rich, capital gains, and estates, and he wants to use those taxes to create new government spending. He wants to tax "windfall profits" and use that tax to have the government spend on alternative energies. Most importantly, he wants to move us away from the so called "winner take all economy" to one that spreads the wealth more evenly. Free markets are themselves winner take all. Free markets are all about competition and in competition there are no points for second place. Thus, his so called new found love of free markets is nothing more than a cynical attempt to move to the center again just in time to woo independent voters.

Then, there is Obama's new position on the second amendment. Obama's position on the 2nd amendment has run the gamut as he has been both in favor of an individual's right to bear arms and in favor of D.C.'s entire ban on handguns. In 1996, he answered a far left liberal advocacy group's questionnaire in a far left manner. At that time, according to the questionnaire, Barack Obama was in favor of a total ban on guns. Furthermore, the group did a follow up interview in which Barack Obama himself confirmed all of his answers to the group. As late as the later part of 2007, here is how Barack Obama viewed the D.C. gun ban.

think that local jurisdictions have the capacity to institute their own gun laws . . . the City of Chicago has gun laws, as does Washington, D.C... The notion that somehow local jurisdictions can’t initiate gun safety laws . . . isn’t borne out by our Constitution

So, how did Obama respond to yesterday's ruling affirming an individual's right to bear arms, AND, his own prior affirmation of D.C's gun ban (which was itself overturned by the decision)

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Alexa Ainsworth Report: With the Supreme Court poised to rule on Washington, D.C.'s, gun ban, the Obama campaign is disavowing what it calls an "inartful" statement to the Chicago Tribune last year in which an unnamed aide characterized Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as believing that the DC ban was constitutional.

"That statement was obviously an in artful attempt to explain the Senator's consistent position," Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC News.

The statement which Burton describes as an inaccurate representation of the senator's views was made to the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 20, 2007.

So, suddenly his liberal view is nothing more than an "in artful statement". In fact, Barack Obama came out in favor of the Heller decision. Wait a minute. Who voted for Heller and who voted against it? Judges voting for Heller included Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy. Judges voting against Heller were Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, and Stevens. Obama voted against both Alito and Roberts during their confirmation, and he is on record as saying that is he would appoint judges in the mold of Ginsberg, Breyer and Souter.

Furthermore, earlier in the week, the court handed down a decision that outlawed the death penalty for child rapists. How did Barack Obama respond to the ruling?

Democrat Barack Obama said there should be no blanket prohibition of the death penalty for the rape of children if states want to apply it in those cases.

Once again, though, the very judges he voted against confirmation of agreed with him and the very judges he says he wants to appoint to the court disagree with him. Talk about cynical. If Ginsberg, Breyer et al are the sort of judges he wants appointed to the court, why is he constantly in disagreement with them? If Alito and Roberts were unworthy of confirmation, why is he constantly agreeing with their decisions? Once again we have a cynical and disingenuous lurch to the middle that is nothing more than a well orchestrated show to make the independents believe he is moderate when in reality he is quite radical.

Finally, there is the issue of FISA and warrantless wiretapping. Throughout the primary campaign, Barack Obama made the centerpiece of his campaign his insistence that everything Bush has done on foreign policy and national security has failed. Among Bush's missteps, according to Obama, has been a misguided effort in Iraq, not enough attention paid to Iran, a lack of dialogue with our enemies, GITMO, and warrantless wiretapping. Now that we are in the general campaign, when Barack Obama was given the opportunity to opportunity to challenge the validity of warrantless wiretapping he folded like a lawn chair. (here is how previously ardent supporters at the Daily Kos felt about it)

We'll include Barack Obama in the mix of politicians that apparently think all you who were following the FISA debates are as dumb as day-old pill bugs, and it's depressing as hell to have to do so. He may be the Democratic nominee, but he can still write a milquetoast, self-congratulatory justification for choosing the easy way out with the best of them.

You know, I don't mind politicians not agreeing with me much of the time. Or most of the time. And at this point, I'm more than used to various parts of our Constitution being considered strictly optional, and being given away like beads at Mardi Gras.

But it does grate, immeasurably, when they feed us bull and tell us it's candy. I had hoped that, given the length of time it took Obama to come up with a statement, they were going to come up with something substantive. Instead, it appears they were using that time to come up with an assortment of logic-insulting bunk...

Here is how Obama spun the matter...

Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over.

Of course, this is nonsense. The very legislation that Obama now supports he vociferously opposed throughout the primary campaign. Even his articulate spin didn't sway those that find this issue of importance, mainly the nutroots.

So, we have issue after issue in which we have stunning turnaround from someone that was so far left that he captured the imagination of not only the media, the netroots, but students, over liberal icon Hillary Clinton. Now, this man that ran far enough to the left that all these groups became his allies during the primaries is now suddenly starting to sound much more like John Breaux. (moderate former Senator from Louisiana)

All of this is disingenuous and cynical. Barack Obama cut his teeth in among the most radically left places in the world, the South Side of Chicago. He was given title of the most liberal Senator in the Senate in 2007. His social policy is so far left that he favors killing the baby even if the abortion fails. His entire economic platform is socialistic policies of more taxes, more regulation and more government spending. His foreign policy includes a 9/10 mindset and giving more
recognition to our enemies than our allies. He may be the product of a traditional upbringing in Kansas, however his political teeth were cut in Hyde Park in Chicago and at Harvard, the nexus of liberalism so far left that it is radical. He can make an image makeover, and many will likely fall for it, but some of us at least will know the truth.


Anonymous said...

He's pretty opportunistic...

mike volpe said...

the new kind of politics same as the old kind of politics.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but Harvard doesn't count as radical. They're too much a part of the status quo.

mike volpe said...

Well there are a lot of labels going on and that is always dicey and much of that is my fault since I am the one that used most of them. It all depends on what your definition of "radical" and status quo" is. I think that Harvard is part of the academic establishment, however I see academic thought as rather radical. Certainly, they are borderline socialist on the economy.

Mark In Irvine said...

" ... so far left that it is radical."

This country will NEVER go for anything that is "so far left that it is radical". This is just a scare tactic.