When the New York Times rebukes the most liberal senator in Congress and the Democratic nominee for president, you know he’s got a problem with his base.
It is painfully common knowledge that Barack Obama has shifted dramatically in his policies to position himself as a liberal-moderate. Every politician tends to shift policies during the course of a campaign, but Barack Obama has reversed himself more quickly and more dramatically than any candidate in modern history (even John Kerry, whose “I voted for that bill before I voted against it” remark defined him as a serial flip-flopper). And Obama’s reversals are particularly glaring given his arrogant, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, smarmy self-serving rhetoric that he would be different and above it all when it came to such political tactics.
His abandonment of his public campaign finance pledge by itself proves that Barack Obama is not a candidate for the people, but rather a candidate for Barack Obama.
Many of his reversals have come at the cost of liberals, who want the most liberal Senator in the country to become the most liberal President in American history. They feel betrayed. So perhaps it should come as no suprise that the quintessentially liberal New York Times would take Obama to task for his betrayals.
I cite the entire July 4, 2008 New York Times editorial in its entirety:
July 4, 2008
New and Not Improved
Senator Barack Obama stirred his legions of supporters, and raised our hopes, promising to change the old order of things. He spoke with passion about breaking out of the partisan mold of bickering and catering to special pleaders, promised to end President Bush’s abuses of power and subverting of the Constitution and disowned the big-money power brokers who have corrupted Washington politics.
Now there seems to be a new Barack Obama on the hustings. First, he broke his promise to try to keep both major parties within public-financing limits for the general election. His team explained that, saying he had a grass-roots-based model and that while he was forgoing public money, he also was eschewing gold-plated fund-raisers. These days he’s on a high-roller hunt.
Even his own chief money collector, Penny Pritzker, suggests that the magic of $20 donations from the Web was less a matter of principle than of scheduling. “We have not been able to have much of the senator’s time during the primaries, so we have had to rely more on the Internet,” she explained as she and her team busily scheduled more than a dozen big-ticket events over the next few weeks at which the target price for quality time with the candidate is more than $30,000 per person.
The new Barack Obama has abandoned his vow to filibuster an electronic wiretapping bill if it includes an immunity clause for telecommunications companies that amounts to a sanctioned cover-up of Mr. Bush’s unlawful eavesdropping after 9/11.
In January, when he was battling for Super Tuesday votes, Mr. Obama said that the 1978 law requiring warrants for wiretapping, and the special court it created, worked. “We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend,” he declared.
Now, he supports the immunity clause as part of what he calls a compromise but actually is a classic, cynical Washington deal that erodes the power of the special court, virtually eliminates “vigorous oversight” and allows more warrantless eavesdropping than ever.
The Barack Obama of the primary season used to brag that he would stand before interest groups and tell them tough truths. The new Mr. Obama tells evangelical Christians that he wants to expand President Bush’s policy of funneling public money for social spending to religious-based organizations — a policy that violates the separation of church and state and turns a government function into a charitable donation.
He says he would not allow those groups to discriminate in employment, as Mr. Bush did, which is nice. But the Constitution exists to protect democracy, no matter who is president and how good his intentions may be.
On top of these perplexing shifts in position, we find ourselves disagreeing powerfully with Mr. Obama on two other issues: the death penalty and gun control.
Mr. Obama endorsed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the District of Columbia’s gun-control law. We knew he ascribed to the anti-gun-control groups’ misreading of the Constitution as implying an individual right to bear arms. But it was distressing to see him declare that the court provided a guide to “reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe.”
What could be more reasonable than a city restricting handguns, or requiring that firearms be stored in ways that do not present a mortal threat to children?
We were equally distressed by Mr. Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s barring the death penalty for crimes that do not involve murder.
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.
Too late: Obama has already begun his maneuvering to reverse himself on the biggest “big question: of all; Obama has backed off his previously iron-clad pledge to cut-and-run in Iraq within 16 months. Hillary Clinton – who had a more moderate and cautious approach to Iraq that hurt her in the liberal-oriented Democratic primaries, claimed that Obama would do exactly what he is in fact doing now. Obama said time and time again that “I will bring the troops home in 2009,” but he is now hedging behind the disclaimer that he will only do so with the military commanders’ blessing.
Obama promised he would pull out of Iraq within 16 months dozens of times without caveats when he faced a liberal electorate; now he is deceitfully “refining” his position in order to pander to the more conservative overall electorate. John McCain, by contrast, has been absolutely firm and absolutely clear on his Iraq position even when it cost him politically. He publicly and repeatedly urged President Bush to send more troops into Iraq in a surge campaign when the situation in Iraq was difficult and vulnerable, and when even Republicans were beginning to waver in their commitment to Iraq.
The New York Times makes it quite clear that they wanted this guy to win. They thought he was different, but he is revealing that “hope” and “change” was never anything more than a rhetorical ploy.
I would argue that Barack Obama truly is different: he is the most cynical presidential candidate in history. The man who got his start in politics by stabbing Alice Palmer in the back to become a state senator is revealing his true character. This man – who used byzantine legal tactics and insider personal relationships to invalidate the voters’ will and keep a candidate off the ballot who had previously won her district with 87% of the vote, and who literally threw his own grandmother under the bus for the sake of political cover – is showing that he will betray anyone and anything to obtain personal power.
The Latin description for Obama is Hypocriticus Maximus. I have seen that in this man with crystal clarity ever since the day his church’s incredibly radical theology was revealed. Liberals and Democrats have repeatedly complained about “guilt by association,” but tell me when you have ever seen a major candidate for president ever having had such “associations.” And when these associations are exposed, he dismisses one longstanding friendship and relationship after another as he continues his climb to the top.
I use the word “cynical” – which the New York Times itself uses to characterize Obama – because only an incredibly cynical man would attack the modern political apparatus even as he uses that same apparatus to maximum personal advantage; only the most cynical candidate would claim to be so different from any politician who has ever come before when he is anything but.