03 Jul 2008

Running For George W. Bush’s Third Term

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Ann Althouse, responds to James Risen’s New York Times story on the left blogosphere’s recent conniption fit over Obama’s flipflop on FISA Telecom immunity:

You can’t please everybody, and if you want to be President, you really can’t please Greenwald, Hamsher, and Kos. Obama is taking the right position now, and he should defend it frankly.

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Andy Borowitz, at Huffington Post, was also impatient with the left.

The liberal blogosphere was aflame today with new accusations that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) is trying to win the 2008 presidential election.

Suspicions about Sen. Obama’s true motives have been building over the past few weeks, but not until today have the bloggers called him out for betraying the Democratic Party’s losing tradition.

“Barack Obama seems to be making a very calculated attempt to win over 270 electoral votes,” wrote liberal blogger Carol Foyler at LibDemWatch.com, a blog read by a half-dozen other liberal bloggers. “He must be stopped.”

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The Wall Street Journal notices Obama’s speedy march toward the Center with slightly less congratulation.

We’re beginning to understand why Barack Obama keeps protesting so vigorously against the prospect of “George Bush’s third term.” Maybe he’s worried that someone will notice that he’s the candidate who’s running for it.

Most Presidential candidates adapt their message after they win their party nomination, but Mr. Obama isn’t merely “running to the center.” He’s fleeing from many of his primary positions so markedly and so rapidly that he’s embracing a sizable chunk of President Bush’s policy. Who would have thought that a Democrat would rehabilitate the much-maligned Bush agenda?

Take the surveillance of foreign terrorists. Last October, while running with the Democratic pack, the Illinois Senator vowed to “support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies” that assisted in such eavesdropping after 9/11. As recently as February, still running as the liberal favorite against Hillary Clinton, he was one of 29 Democrats who voted against allowing a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reform of surveillance rules even to come to the floor.

Two weeks ago, however, the House passed a bill that is essentially the same as that Senate version, and Mr. Obama now says he supports it. Apparently legal immunity for the telcos is vital for U.S. national security, just as Mr. Bush has claimed. Apparently, too, the legislation isn’t an attempt by Dick Cheney to gut the Constitution. Perhaps it is dawning on Mr. Obama that, if he does become President, he’ll be responsible for preventing any new terrorist attack. So now he’s happy to throw the New York Times under the bus.

Next up for Mr. Obama’s political blessing will be Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy. Only weeks ago, the Democrat was calling for an immediate and rapid U.S. withdrawal. When General David Petraeus first testified about the surge in September 2007, Mr. Obama was dismissive and skeptical. But with the surge having worked wonders in Iraq, this week Mr. Obama went out of his way to defend General Petraeus against MoveOn.org’s attacks in 2007 that he was “General Betray Us.” Perhaps he had a late epiphany.

Look for Mr. Obama to use his forthcoming visit to Iraq as an excuse to drop those withdrawal plans faster than he can say Jeremiah Wright “was not the person that I met 20 years ago.” The Senator will learn – as John McCain has been saying – that withdrawal would squander the gains from the surge, set back Iraqi political progress, and weaken America’s strategic position against Iran. Our guess is that he’ll spin this switcheroo as some kind of conditional commitment, saying he’ll stay in Iraq as long as Iraqis are making progress on political reconciliation, and so on. As things improve in Iraq, this would be Mr. Bush’s policy too.

Mr. Obama has also made ostentatious leaps toward Mr. Bush on domestic issues. While he once bid for labor support by pledging a unilateral rewrite of Nafta, the Democrat now says he favors free trade as long as it works for “everybody.” His economic aide, Austan Goolsbee, has been liberated from the five-month purdah he endured for telling Canadians that Mr. Obama’s protectionism was merely campaign rhetoric. Now that Mr. Obama is in a general election, he can’t scare the business community too much.

Back in the day, the first-term Senator also voted against the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. But last week he agreed with their majority opinion in the Heller gun rights case, and with their dissent against the liberal majority’s ruling to ban the death penalty for rape. Mr. Obama seems to appreciate that getting pegged as a cultural lefty is deadly for national Democrats – at least until November.

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