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Obama's Extreme Centrist Makeover -- Part 2 -- Two Articles

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Obama's Extreme Centrist Makeover

Neville's Note: Barack Obama's campaign scrubbed his presidential Web site over the weekend to remove criticism of the U.S. troop "surge" in Iraq. After Bush announced his "surge" plan on Jan. 10, 2007, Obama argued it could make the situation worse by taking pressure off Iraqis to find a political solution to the fighting. By the early part of this year, though, Obama was acknowledging that it had improved security and reduced violence, but he has stuck by his opposition to the move.

In a recent spate of "I'm moving to the center" flips Obama announced that he was refining his position on a timetable. However, after a storm of anger from his base Obama flopped back and said withdrawal was the centerpiece of his Iraq strategy.

GOP rival John McCain zinged Obama as a flip-flopper. "The major point here is that Sen. Obama refuses to acknowledge that he was wrong," said McCain, adding that Obama "refuses to acknowledge that it [the surge] is succeeding."

So Obama is locked into withdrawal as policy on the eve of his trip to Iraq no matter what the generals may tell him regarding the success of the surge and the situation on the ground.


The Iron Timetable-Whether the war in Iraq is being lost or won, Barack Obama's strategy remains unchanged.

WHY THE RACE IS TIED


The Iron Timetable-Whether the war in Iraq is being lost or won, Barack Obama's strategy remains unchanged.


By The Washington Post
June 16, 2008
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/15/AR2008071502531.html

BARACK OBAMA yesterday accused President Bush and Sen. John McCain of rigidity on Iraq: "They said we couldn't leave when violence was up, they say we can't leave when violence is down." Mr. Obama then confirmed his own foolish consistency. Early last year, when the war was at its peak, the Democratic candidate proposed a timetable for withdrawing all U.S. combat forces in slightly more than a year. Yesterday, with bloodshed at its lowest level since the war began, Mr. Obama endorsed the same plan. After hinting earlier this month that he might "refine" his Iraq strategy after visiting the country and listening to commanders, Mr. Obama appears to have decided that sticking to his arbitrary, 16-month timetable is more important than adjusting to the dramatic changes in Iraq.

Mr. Obama's charge against the Republicans was not entirely fair, since Mr. Bush has overseen the withdrawal of five American brigades from Iraq this year, and Mr. McCain has suggested that he would bring most of the rest of the troops home by early 2013. Mr. Obama's timeline would end in the summer of 2010, a year or two before the earliest dates proposed recently by members of the Iraqi government. The real difference between the various plans is not the dates but the conditions: Both the Iraqis and Mr. McCain say the withdrawal would be linked to the ability of Iraqi forces to take over from U.S. troops, as they have begun to do. Mr. Obama's strategy allows no such linkage -- his logic is that a timetable unilaterally dictated from Washington is necessary to force Iraqis to take responsibility for the country.

At the time he first proposed his timetable, Mr. Obama argued -- wrongly, as it turned out -- that U.S. troops could not stop a sectarian civil war. He conceded that a withdrawal might be accompanied by a "spike" in violence. Now, he describes as "an achievable goal" that "we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future -- a government that prevents sectarian conflict and ensures that the al-Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge." How will that "true success" be achieved? By the same pullout that Mr. Obama proposed when chaos in Iraq appeared to him inevitable.

Mr. Obama reiterated yesterday that he would consult with U.S. commanders and the Iraqi government and "make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy." However, as Mr. McCain quickly pointed out, he delivered his speech before traveling to Iraq -- before his meetings with Gen. David H. Petraeus and the Iraqi leadership. American commanders will probably tell Mr. Obama that from a logistical standpoint, a 16-month withdrawal timetable will be difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill. Iraqis will say that a pullout that is not negotiated with the government and disregards the readiness of Iraqi troops will be a gift to al-Qaeda and other enemies. If Mr. Obama really intends to listen to such advisers, why would he lock in his position in advance?

"What's missing in our debate," Mr. Obama said yesterday, "is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq." Indeed: The message that the Democrat sends is that he is ultimately indifferent to the war's outcome -- that Iraq "distracts us from every threat we face" and thus must be speedily evacuated regardless of the consequences. That's an irrational and ahistorical way to view a country at the strategic center of the Middle East, with some of the world's largest oil reserves. Whether or not the war was a mistake, Iraq's future is a vital U.S. security interest. If he is elected president, Mr. Obama sooner or later will have to tailor his Iraq strategy to that reality.


WHY THE RACE IS TIED


By Dick Morris
July 16, 2008
http://www.theHill.com

After almost six weeks of a constant Obama lead, generally in the five to seven-point range, Scott Rasmussen's daily tracking poll records two consecutive days of a tie race (July 12-13) and a one-point Obama lead on July 14. What happened to the Democrat's lead?

Part of the slippage is Obama's fault and part is McCain's gain.

Obama has carried flip-flopping to new heights. In the space of a month and a half, this candidate - who we don't really yet know very well - reversed or sharply modified his positions on at least eight key issues:
  • After vowing to eschew private fundraising and take public financing, he has now refused public money.
  • Once he threatened to filibuster a bill to protect telephone companies from liability for their cooperation with national security wiretaps; now he has voted for the legislation.
  • Turning his back on a lifetime of support for gun control, he now recognizes a Second Amendment right to bear arms in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
  • Formerly, he told the Israeli lobby that he favored an undivided Jerusalem. Now he says he didn't mean it.
  • From a 100 percent pro-choice position, he now has migrated to expressing doubts about allowing partial-birth abortions.
  • For the first time, he now speaks highly of using church-based institutions to deliver public services to the poor.
  • Having based his entire campaign on withdrawal from Iraq, he now pledges to consult with the military first.
  • During the primary, he backed merit pay for teachers - but before the union a few weeks ago, he opposed it.
  • After specifically saying in the primaries that he disagreed with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-N.Y.) proposal to impose Social Security taxes on income over $200,000 and wanted to tax all income, he has now adopted the Clinton position.
Obama's breathtaking flips and flops are materially different from McCain's. While McCain had opposed offshore oil drilling and now supports it, the facts have obviously changed. Obama's shifts have nothing to do with altered circumstances, just a change in the political calendar.

As a candidate who was nominated to be a different kind of politician, Obama has set the bar pretty high. And, with his flipping and flopping, he is falling short, to the disillusionment of his more na´ve supporters. One wag even called him the "black Bill Clinton," a turnaround of the "first black president" moniker that had been pinned on Bill.

Meanwhile, McCain and the Republicans have finally found an issue - oil drilling - exposing how the Democrats oppose drilling virtually anywhere that there might be recoverable oil. Not in Alaska. Not offshore. Not in shale deposits in the West. The Democratic claim that we "cannot drill our way out of the crisis in gas prices" begs the question of whether, had we drilled five years ago, we would be a lot less dependent on foreign market fluctuations.

The truth is that the Democrats put the need to mitigate climate change ahead of the imperative of holding down gasoline prices at the pump. If there was ever a fault line between elitist and populist approaches to a problem, this is it. In fact, liberals basically don't see much wrong with $5 gas. Many have been urging a tax to achieve precisely this level, just like Europe has done for decades.

Obama said that he was unhappy that there was not a period of "gradual adjustment" to the high prices, but seems to shed few tears over the current levels. After all, if your imperative is climate change, a high gas price is worth 10 times a ratified Kyoto treaty in bringing about change.

Republicans can drive a truck through the gap between this elite opinion and the need for ordinary people to afford the journey to work in the morning. And, with a 16-state media buy, the Republican Party and the McCain campaign are doing precisely that.

If Obama softens his aversion to drilling, it may be the final straw for some of his liberal supporters. Where would they go? Nader is still a possibility. But McCain can attract liberal votes. He doesn't need to bleed Obama only from the right. His own stands against drilling in Alaska and torture of terror suspects and for immigration reform make him suspect on the right, but quite acceptable to the left. If moderate liberals are disgusted by Obama's obvious attempts at chicanery and repositioning, they might just cross the aisle.
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