It’s a good bet that Daily Kos and Weekly Standard don’t agree on much. But they do agree that Obama has abandoned what he formerly said and believed.
So many of you are upset that I pulled back my credit card last night, making a last minute decision to hold back on a $2,300 contribution to Obama. Let me explain further:
First of all, obviously Obama is a great candidate who is running a great 50-state race. That much cannot be denied. But he’s had a rough couple of weeks.
First, he reversed course and capitulated on FISA, not just turning back on the Constitution, but on the whole concept of “leadership”. Personally, I like to see presidents who 1) lead, and 2) uphold their promises to protect the Constitution.
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 donâ€™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.
*intervened in a Democratic Congressional primary to support one of the worst Bush-enabling Blue Dogs over a credible, progressive challenger;
* announced his support for Bush’s FISA bill, reversing himself completely on this issue;
* sided with the Scalia/Thomas faction in two highly charged Supreme Court decisions;
* repudiated Wesley Clark and embraced the patently false media narrative that Clark had “dishonored McCain’s service” (and for the best commentary I’ve seen, by far, on the Clark matter, see this appropriately indignant piece by Iraq veteran Brandon Friedman);
* condemned MoveOn.org for its newspaper advertisement criticizing Gen. Petraeus;
* defended his own patriotism by impugning the patriotism of others, specifically those in what he described as the “the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties” for “attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself” and — echoing Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s 1984 RNC speech — “blaming America for all that was wrong with the world”;
* unveiled plans “to expand President Bush’s program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and — in a move sure to cause controversy . . . letting religious charities that receive federal funding consider religion in employment decisions,” a move that could “invite a storm of protest from those who view such faith requirements as discrimination” — something not even the Bush faith programs allowed.
And what’s to explain Obama’s weird embrace of faith-based programs:
So Obama would create what he calls “a new President’s Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.” Sounds a lot like Bush’s White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. But Obama wants a fresh start. Announcing his plans today after a tour of a food bank in Zanesville, Ohio, Obama said that Bush’s office “was used to promote partisan interests” and wound up failing to sufficiently empower smaller congregations and community groups. Obama implied that partisanship will not infect his council (make note of that promise now), and he announced a plan to have larger faith-based groups who know how to win government grants (Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services, he gives as examples) teach the smaller congregations and groups how to supplicate successfully (imagine the jobs program this could entail). Taking a shot at those (mainly found in his own party) “who bristle at the notion that faith has a place in the public square,” Obama defended the idea of enlisting believers alongside nonbelievers in the effort to ameliorate stubborn social problems. That idea, as he acknowledged, has long has broad support in both parties (the details being where things get controversial–details that Obama largely passed over).
Obama’s faith-based council may be seen as part of a strategy to cut into the Republican advantage with voters who attend church at least once a week. Yet the real story from Zanesville came at the end of Obama’s remarks. (It’s called “burying your lede” in journalism.) For it turns out that the new council “will help set our national agenda.” Thus, faith and the values it commends will provide “the foundation of a new project of American renewal.” Which, encompassing a new assault on “extreme poverty” at home and contemplating nothing less than an end to genocide and the scourge of HIV/AIDS abroad, is what Obama “[intends] to lead as President of the United States.” Sounds like the country’s being offered another faith-based presidency, one of considerable ambition. What was it that Obama said in churches in South Carolina, back in January? Oh yes: “I am confident that we can create a Kingdom [of God] right here on Earth.”
The answer is clear: all of the positions and friends that Obama has are chosen to increase his power. When Obama could increase his power as a “community organizer” by praising terrorists and racialists, he did. When Obama thinks he can increase his power by condemning old friends, like his pastor, MoveOn, and General Clark, he does that. When Obama look ahead, and realizes his powers of social engineering will be greater if he funds faith-based churches, and his powers of surveillance will be better with warrentless wiretaps, he does that.
Obama appears to be a power-seekling light-weight. Of course his campaign is often sickeningly crude, from his race-baiting to his campaigns pattern of Wesley-Clark-style attacks
I originally thought that Obama would be an intelligent and capable politician who would help us have an honest debate about the post-9/11 world. Clearly, I was wrong. Obama’s pattern of behavior point to a basic incompetence, a reliance on whatever powers that are, and a viciousness in attacking opponents.