Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Centering of Obama

Sen. Barack Obama’s move to the right, after having dished Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democrat presidential primary, has been variously described as traitorous by hot headed bloggers on the left and refinements by the senator’s apologists in the mainstream media.

Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos website, marching orders central for leftist bloggers, is having second thoughts: “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 unnecessary 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."

Columnist Donald Lambro recently caught Obama in mid-pirouette on the question of the Iraq war when he cited an article written for the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs by Colin Kahl, assistant professor in the Security Studies Program at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and chief coordinator of Obama's working group on Iraq policy, that contained this teaser: “ Rather than unilaterally and unconditionally withdrawing from Iraq and hoping the international community will fill the void and push the Iraqis toward accommodation -- a very unlikely scenario -- the United States must embrace a policy of 'conditional engagement… This approach would couple a phased redeployment of combat forces with a commitment to providing residual support for the Iraqi government if and only if it moves toward genuine reconciliation.”

Kahl later denied that in his remarks he was speaking for the Obama campaign.

“In his New York Times column,” Lambro writes, “Obama says nothing about the size of the ‘residual’ military force he would leave in Iraq for the short term. His liberal base is already grumbling about signals that he is softening the pace of his withdrawal, which he says would be made in consultation with the U.S. military commanders on the ground and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. But in an op-ed filled with contradictions, Obama grudgingly concedes the military surge he opposed -- and predicted would fail -- has worked. Still, he persists in his intention to pull out under a 16-month timetable in the midst of winning the war."

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