Robert Samuelson does a nice job of identifying the reality behind the campaign facade.
His campaign is itself a contradiction.
On the one hand, he projects himself as the great conciliator. He uses the metaphor of his race to argue that he is uniquely suited to bridge differences between liberals and conservatives, young and old, rich and poor — to craft a new centrist politics. On the other hand, his actual agenda is highly partisan and undermines many of his stated goals. He wants to stimulate economic growth, but his hostility toward trade agreements threatens export-led growth (which is now beginning). He advocates greater energy independence but pretends this can occur without more domestic drilling for oil and natural gas.
All this reflects Obama’s legislative record. From 2005 to 2007, he voted with his party 97 percent of the time, reports the Politico. But Obama’s clever campaign strategy would put him in a bind as president. Championing centrism would disappoint many ardent Democrats. Pleasing them would betray his conciliating image. The fact that he has so far straddled the contradiction may confirm his political skills and the quiet aid received from the media, which helped him by virtually ignoring the blatant contradictions.
And what does the straddle tell us of him? Aside from ambition — hardly unique among presidential candidates — I cannot detect powerful convictions in Obama. He seems merely expedient in peddling his convenient conflicts. He strikes me as a super-successful graduate student: the brightest, quickest, most articulate guy in the seminar. In his career, he has advanced mainly by talking and writing — not doing — and may harbor a delusion common to the well-educated: that he can argue and explain his way around any problem.