Sunday, June 29, 2008

Does Barack Obama Have Any Core Beliefs?

Photo credits: AP

Obama’s mantra in the Democratic primary was “change you can believe in.” He rode to victory in the Democratic primary as the harbinger of the “new politics,” and the punditry swooned at his feet right along with his intoxicated and predominantly youthful following.

Now the pundits are asking: “Does Barack Obama have any core beliefs?”

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald reminds us that ‘“Bush's ability to project ‘Strength’ came not from advocacy of specific policies, but from his claim to stand by his beliefs even when they were politically unpopular.”’

Greenwald then gets to the point:

‘“For that reason, isn't the perception that Obama is abandoning his own core beliefs -- or, worse, that he has none -- a much greater political danger than a failure to move to the so-called ‘Center’ by suddenly adopting Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies? As a result of Obama's reversal on FISA, his very noticeable change in approach regarding Israel, his conspicuous embrace of the Scalia/Thomas view in recent Supreme Court cases, and a general shift in tone, a very strong media narrative is arising that Obama is abandoning his core beliefs for political gain. That narrative -- that he's afraid to stand by his own beliefs -- appears far more likely to result in a perception that Obama is ‘Weak’ than a refusal to embrace Bush/Cheney national security positions.

Greenwald goes on to question the assumption that GOP positions on major issues are at the center in American politics and he contends:

‘“What's most amazing about the unexamined premise that Democrats must ‘move to the Center’ (i.e., adopt GOP views) is that this is the same advice Democrats have been following over and over and which keeps leading to their abject failure. It's the advice Kerry followed in 2004. It's why Democrats rejected Howard Dean and chose John Kerry instead.”’

Greenwald then mentions an insight from David Sirota recently cited in the Washington Post:

"American voters tend to reward politicians who take clear stands," said David Sirota, a former Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and author of the new populist-themed book "The Uprising." "When Obama takes these mushy positions, it could speak to a character issue. Voters that don't pay a lot of attention look at one thing: 'Does the guy believe in something?' They may be saying the guy is afraid of his own shadow."

During one of her many debates with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton observed, “That’s not change you can believe in; that’s change you can Xerox.”

Obama’s mantra looks a little more tattered around the edges the further we move into the general election - all the more reason to keep Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot in Denver.

Think about it.


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