When Obama Said Non-Partisan He Meant It

By Taylor Marsh; July 2, 2008

That sound you hear is alarm bells going off. There’s so much fodder for this stuff it’s hard to know where to start.

Obama is “moving to the center” is the latest story to explain who the Democratic nominee is. Reality bites, because Senator Obama isn’t moving anywhere. This is who he is. Faith-based policies that won’t be just photos ops comport with everything about him. Approving of the latest FISA bill, which offers telecom immunity, as he simultaneously says he’ll work to remove it, shouldn’t surprise anyone. Obama hopes to project his strength, while not scaring people who might vote for him. It’s called working general election political optics. Backing the D.C. gun decision from the Supreme Court, which I support, goes in the FISA category, too. It’s cosmetics that move him forward where he wants to be, closer to the power that will get him elected. He’s a Democrat, not an ideologue. Get used to it.

So to say it’s been more than a little amusing to see hard core Obama supporters either surprised, moved to pull back a little from their candidate, as well as criticize their candidate on being exactly what his record reveals, is an understatement. For political analysts like me, this is the Obama I’ve come to know after covering him for 18 months, so I’m not surprised, disappointed or excited. He is revealing himself to be the exact person I covered, warts and all, but no less real. But you have to have at least some compassion for the folks who got suckered; believing that Obama really was going to offer a “different type of politics,” which I guess is true if you count no ideology at all being new, because in a way it is. Is being non-partisan and not moored to any Democratic core belief that you won’t change a down side for the general election? Depends on if the Obama supporter believed what he was saying in the primaries. The real trouble with Obama supporters is they didn’t believe their candidate when he said he was non-partisan. Now they feel stuck somehow with the real Barack Obama, who is actually now someone they don’t seem to recognize.

Arianna Huffington’s post Memo to Obama: Moving to the Middle is for Losers is a good example of someone who missed the signs by a mile. Now the light has dawned, however late the epiphany, and she seems surprised:

… .. So why start playing to the political fence sitters — staking out newly nuanced positions on FISA, gun control laws, expansion of the death penalty, and NAFTA?

In an interview with Nina Easton in Fortune Magazine, Obama was asked about having called NAFTA “a big mistake” and “devastating.” Obama’s reply: “Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified.”

Overheated? So when he was campaigning in the Midwest, many parts of which have been, yes, devastated by economic changes since the passage of NAFTA, and he pledged to make use of a six-month opt-out clause in the trade agreement, that was “overheated?” Or was that one “amplified?”

Because if that’s the case, it would be helpful going forward if Obama would let us know which of his powerful rhetoric is “overheated” and/or “amplified,” so voters will know not to get their hopes too high….

“Newly nuanced positions”? Really? Hardly.

Stunning that someone as well versed in the political black arts of the primary flim flam fell for it from Senator Obama. Because it’s not about “moving to the middle” at all. Barack Obama said he doesn’t believe in a red or blue American, but a red, white and blue America. That partisan politics has crippled any chance of doing business for the American people. Maybe Ms. Huffington should have believed him. The beauty of Obama’s politics is that he can be all things to all people, so long as he moves the conversation along. Party politics has nothing to do with it. If Obama can broker deals that show progress he feels he’s won and so have the American people.

I guess it all depends on what deal a Democrat is willing to make. Obviously, Obama supporters are finding a little ambiguity in that prospect, which is also giving them, at long last, pause.

Not that Ms. Huffington would have preferred Hillary had she paid attention to the signals or perhaps read this blog. But she might have backed John Edwards instead, someone who actually might have walked the walk. But The Obama Light was too bright, so now we’ll never know.

Enter Mr. DailyKos, someone who has now decided that he’s withholding $2,300 from Obama, the maximum he could give, because he’s simply not too impressed with what’s happened so far from his candidate.

… Then, he took his not-so-veiled swipe at MoveOn in his “patriotism” speech.

Finally, he reinforced right-wing and media talking points that Wes Clark had somehow impugned McCain’s military service when, in reality, Clark had done no such thing.

All of a sudden, there was a lot of cowering when, just days ago, we got to read this:

When Mr. Wenner asked how Mr. Obama might respond to harsh attacks from Republicans, suggesting that Democrats have “cowered” in the past, Mr. Obama replied, “Yeah, I don’t do cowering.”

Could’ve fooled me, and maybe he is. Maybe what looks like cowering to me is really part of that “moving to the center” stuff everyone keeps talking about. But there is a line between “moving to the center” and stabbing your allies in the back out of fear of being criticized. And, of late, he’s been doing a lot of unecessary stabbing, betraying his claims of being a new kind of politician. Not that I ever bought it, but Obama is now clearly not looking much different than every other Democratic politician who has ever turned his or her back on the base in order to prove centrist bona fides. That’s not an indictment, just an observation….

Under the title of “Rewarding Good Behavior,” Mr. DailyKos, about whom I never write or to whom I never link, though this one is just too rich to resist, has decided that teaching Senator Obama a lesson is the order of the day. Maybe others will join to… what? Teach Obama a lesson now that he’s gotten the nomination?

See me laughing until I fall off my chair in a fit of hilarity that defies any other description. Ah, that felt good. ahem… deep breath now … and off we go.

Senator Obama ducked the MoveOn.org vote on Petraeus, to name one example, got their endorsement anyway, then once he got the nomination included in his speech a swipe at the group. That they’ve decided to support Wesley Clark after he came under attack for his comments about McCain will be the kiss of political death for the former general, though I’m certain he appreciates it, but could do without it. He’s now a political untouchable for camp Obama, having served his purpose of rousing the questions about the criteria for judging John McCain, while being too nuclear now for Obama to further utilize.

No doubt more activist liberals will fret and moan over Obama’s “moving to the center” or “moving to the middle,” pick your cliché, but it’s not going to phase the Democratic nominee. This is who he is.

Can’t wait until Obama drops his vice presidential bomb. People like me believe Hillary is the strongest choice, but that’s not likely to happen. If recent activities tell us anything, which they do if you’ve been paying attention, it’s likely that Obama’s core supporters will be in for another rude awakening.

As for me, since my candidate unfortunately didn’t prevail, Obama’d better pick someone good. Because having known what to expect from Obama all along, the only thing I want now is for him to win.


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