HOME      CANDIDATES      NEWS       EVENTS       JOIN       SHOP       CONTACT       CONTRIBUTE

Obama Shifts Toward the "Middle"

Martin County Democrats

Obama gives GOP flip-flop ammo

Jennifer Loven wrote in a July 5th article in the Chicago Sun-Times:

"Four years ago, Republicans branded as a ''flip-flop'' even the slightest rhetorical or policy change by John Kerry and sent huge replicas of the casual sandals to bob around the Massachusetts Democrat's events, feeding an image of him as a wishy-washy panderer.

Fair or not, Kerry never recovered and lost to President Bush.

It's now the Republican weapon of choice against Obama.

The Illinois senator has excited many with the notion that he is a new, transcendent type of politician. But he is giving the GOP effort ammunition and endangering his ''Change We Can Believe In'' motto with several shifts to the center, most recently on the Iraq war, his campaign's defining issue.

General election campaigns invariably find candidates fine-tuning what they said during primaries.

When politicians compete against others in their party, they must appeal to the most partisan, who tend to make up the majority of enthusiastic voters at that stage. But general elections require a broader appeal, particularly to the vast center of the nation's electorate.

So it's not uncommon as spring fades and November approaches to see candidates de-emphasize or even cast off some of their most extreme positions in favor of policy more palatable to the middle. They mostly do it quietly, or try to.

And though there can be criticism about shifting positions, voters usually forgive and forget.

For one thing, a willingness to hone policy, add nuance or even change one's mind -- especially when new information comes to light -- is not a bad quality in a leader. For another, those partisans who supported a candidate in the primaries are not likely to switch parties. Often the worst that can happen is they stay home on Election Day. Politicians are usually willing to risk that for the chance to court the center.

Hence Obama has been highlighting positions anathema to the left on several issues, though some have long been part of his policy.

On Iraq, Obama said Thursday that his upcoming trip there might lead him to refine his promise to quickly remove U.S. troops.

He now supports broader authority for the government's eavesdropping program and legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in it, supporting the bill after some protections were added.

A handgun control proponent, he reacted to the Supreme Court overturning the District of Columbia's gun ban by saying he favors both an individual's right to own a gun as well as government's right to regulate ownership.

Obama became the first major-party candidate to reject public financing for the general election after earlier promises to accept it.

He not only embraced but promised to expand Bush's program to give more anti-poverty grants to religious groups, a split with Democratic orthodoxy.

He objected to the Supreme Court's decision outlawing the death penalty for child rapists, drawing attention to his support for the death penalty if used only for the ''most egregious'' crimes."

An Opinion Piece

By Bob Lipton

I am in resolute support of Barack Obama's candidacy.

Obama is being hammered by the left and by the right, by formerly steadfast supporters such as Keith Olbermann, for abandoning not only his own principles (shared by his fans) but also the Constitution.

And I respectfully disagree with the hammerers.

The Constitution of the United States. Just to be clear, that's what we're talking about.

And, to be equally clear, I get all choked up when I think about the document known as the U.S. Constitution and the first 10 amendments which are known as the Bill of Rights.

What the Founding Fathers created has served this country admirably, even though it has been subject to interpretation and re-interpretation over the past two centuries plus.

Let's examine these three amendments more closely.

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What the first sixteen words mean to me is that the State cannot declare any particular religion to be the "official" religion of our country, that the People can worship at the shrine of their choice, and that they are free to not worship anywhere, if they so choose.

Now I'll admit. You start muddying the waters a bit when tax dollars collected by the Government start getting used to support religious institutions. But first of all, the First Amendment says nothing about that, and second of all, opening the government coffers in aid of charities sponsored by faith-based organizations isn't even, per se, support of the churches, synagogues, and mosques themselves. It would be support of charitable activities, nothing else.

I know all about cans of worms, and slippery slopes, and about the low approval rating of Congress and about the right-wing orientation of certain members of our Supreme Court.

And I've admitted previously that Obama's proposal for government support of faith-based initiatives is not my favorite thing that he's ever said. And if Constitutional scholars, whether credentialed or not, want to argue about constitutionality, I'm not qualified to argue back.

But I CAN say, he taught Constitutional law at the University of Chicago for ten years, and if you read the chapter in "The Audacity of Hope" that deals with our Constitution, you'll come away with the understanding that HE understands our Constitution.

We supporters are supposed to have his back. We're entitled -- more than entitled, we are urged -- to express our counter-opinions and he listens to us. And Obama is a big enough man to have said he's willing to take his lumps on this and other subjects. So we are free to abandon our candidate.

But I think that's just stupid. Especially when he hasn't said anything wrong. Just arguable.

The Second Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Here, Obama is being hammered for agreeing with a Supreme Court decision that I think sounds perfectly right. Though we can't be sure, I think (and the Court thinks, and Obama thinks) that the Founding Fathers intended for citizens to be allowed to arm themselves, to protect themselves from encroachment.

I DON'T think that the Founding Fathers would be pleased to see this amendment used as justification for irresponsible firearm usage and possession, and Obama makes perfectly good sense when he observes that the recent Supreme Court ruling offers "guidance" about how far we can go, and how far we can't go, in the difficult area of gun control.

The reason we "can't be sure" is that the Second Amendment is first of all almost ungrammatical, and second of all too many terms are undefined. "Well regulated". "Militia". "Necessary". "Security". "Free". "Right". "Arms". "Infringed".

Are people free to join a militia, and thus be well-regulated and bear arms? And is that all? Ambiguities abound throughout the Constitution. There is no way around that, and that is why we have a Supreme Court. Of course, the President is supposed to act responsibly in appointing members to that Court, and Congress is supposed to act responsibly in ratifying such appointments, but that is another matter altogether.

But my point continues to be: idealistic voters who have embraced Obama because of his liberal orientation need to understand that Obama intends to be President of ALL the people, not just the leftwing idealists who adore him. There are reasons why these issues are controversial. If they were simple, they wouldn't be controversial.

So I implore those of you who have been supporting Obama. Do not abandon him over this. We are supposed to have his back. Not stab him in the back. Disagree, fine. Try to change his mind, fine. But abandon not.

The Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This one's a lot more problematical for me, but I'm staying with the guy who brought me to this dance. He promised last year to filibuster if FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), the bill that is before Congress, includes a provision for retroactive immunity for the telecommunication companies that have been spying on our phone calls and emails.

I understand this Amendment, and its reason for being. And I understand the outrage. I also understand that President Bush has already violated this Amendment, and that the bill before Congress, if unamended, will continue to license reprehensible acts.

What I don't understand is the rationale of people who dispute Obama's contention that the provision for Attorney General review of wiretapping practices will be sufficient to correct the abuses that have occurred and that might occur in the future. The immunity provision deals only with civil suits. That's my understanding. And given the paranoia that has engulfed this country since 9/ll/01, and despite the sacrosanctity of civil liberties, and given that Obama feels some kind of bill is necessary (I don't understand why it is, because the old 1978 law would be in effect if the current act isn't renewed; I confess ignorance on this subject), I still think it's an overreaction to literally intend to not vote for Obama as a result of his position on all of this. Criminal prosecutions will still be possible, and Obama has vowed to carefully examine the reviews that will be conducted by his Attorney General.

Why is that not enough?

Humorous Article on Subject - Liberal Bloggers Accuse Obama of Trying to Win Election

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Martin County Democratic Executive Committee has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Martin County Democratic Executive Committee endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)