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I and many other Obama critics in the blogosphereÂ have pointed repeatedly to his double speak on numerous issues and in return have been accused of being “smear, fear,Â and hate” merchants (or some other variation of the same)Â for, well, pointing out the obvious.Â
Only an idiot would think or hope that a politician going through the crucible of a presidential campaign could hold fast to every position, steer clear of the stumbling blocks of nuance and never make a mistake. But Barack Obama went out of his way to create the impression that he was a new kind of political leader — more honest, less cynical and less relentlessly calculating than most.
You would be able to listen to him without worrying about what the meaning of “is” is.
This is why so many of Senator Obama’s strongest supporters are uneasy, upset, dismayed and even angry at the candidate who is now emerging in the bright light of summer.
One issue or another might not have made much difference. Tacking toward the center in a general election is as common as kissing babies in a campaign, and lord knows the Democrats need to expand their coalition.
But Senator Obama is not just tacking gently toward the center. He’s lurching right when it suits him, and he’s zigging with the kind of reckless abandon that’s guaranteed to cause disillusion, if not whiplash.
So there he was in Zanesville, Ohio, pandering to evangelicals by promising not just to maintain the Bush program of investing taxpayer dollars in religious-based initiatives, but to expand it. Separation of church and state? Forget about it.
And there he was, in the midst of an election campaign in which the makeup of the Supreme Court is as important as it has ever been, agreeing with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas that the death penalty could be imposed for crimes other than murder. What was the man thinking?
Thankfully, a majority on the court left the barbaric Scalia-Thomas-Obama (and John McCain) reasoning behind and held that capital punishment would apply only to homicides.
A few questions remain:Â Why is Bob Herbert smearing Obama?Â Why is Bob Herbert playing the fear card against Obama?Â Â Why is Bob Herbert Swift Boating Obama?
All these are moves in the right direction, and we ought to hope that if elected, Obama would stick to these new positions. But when he makes such moves so easily and shamelessly and then denies that he has changed at all, can we be blamed if we conclude he’s just playing us for suckers and will revert to his very liberal origins (as demonstrated by his very liberal voting record) if he becomes president? Of course, Obama offered an answer for that too:
“One of the things you find as you go through this campaign, everyone becomes so cynical about politics” Mr. Obama said. There is an “assumption that your must be doing everything for political reasons.”
It would certainly be interesting to hear some non-political reasons for these sharp reversals. But Obama has not offered reasons at all, only denials of obvious and evident facts. It certainly does seem like “as you go through this campaign, everyone becomes so cynical about politics.”
Heh.Â Ain’t that the truth!