As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oh Noes! Obama A Librul!

Is this a parody, or is The Politico trying to do some reverse ju-jitsu for Barack Obama? I mean, he is running in a DEMOCRATIC primary, guys, and aligning him with liberal views isn't exactly going to hurt him. In fact, given the environment, with Obama attacking Krugman and framing Social Security and health care mandates from the right, it can only reassure people. I wouldn't be surprised if the Obama campaign dropped this themselves.

Filling out a 12-page questionnaire [part 1 of questionnaire, part 2 of questionnaire] from an Illinois voter group as he sought a state Senate seat in 1996, Obama answered “yes” or “no” — without using the available space to calibrate his views — on some of the most emotional and politically potent issues that a public official can confront.

“Do you support … capital punishment?” one question asked.

“No,” the 1996 Obama campaign typed, without explaining his answer in the space provided.

“Do you support state legislation to … ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?” asked one of the three dozen questions.

“Yes,” was Obama’s entire answer.

Obama said he would support a single-payer health plan for Illinois “in principal” [sic], “although such a program will probably have to be instituted at a federal level; the long-term objective would be a universal care system that does not differentiate between the unemployed, the disabled, and so on.” The campaign says Obama has consistently supported single payer health care in principle.

I don't think anyone out there had this notion that Obama is a right-winger. What independents and conservatives appear to like about him is that he listens to people on the other side of the aisle that don't share his views.

I think (Stephen) Hayes's cover story on Obama in the new Weekly Standard is a pretty fascinating document--mainly because it's such a puff job. Indeed, from the gushing (and by now familiar) recitation of Obama's life story to the laudatory quotes from Obama supporters, Hayes--aka Dick Cheney's biographer and Fred Thompson's cheerleader--has nary a negative word to write about the Illinois Senator [...]

After quoting an answer Obama gave to a question about immigration at an Iowa event, Hayes writes:

[W]hile Obama eventually settles on the mainstream liberal position--path to citizenship, crack down on employers, don't punish the workers--he does so only after acknowledging (and in some cases, embracing) the concerns of conservatives. He begins by criticizing George W. Bush on immigration from the right and says that his first priority in ending illegal immigration would be securing the borders. (Ask John McCain if it's important to list border security first when detailing your solution.)

"Hillary Clinton is running from the center," says Dennis Goldford, a Drake University political scientist. "John Edwards is running from the left. And Obama is running from above. He wants to be above politics."

This is the Obama trick, and it explains why, despite his very liberal voting record in the Senate (and in the Illinois Senate before that), he is not viewed as a left-wing ideologue. When a student asks Obama for his views on the Second Amendment, he reminds his audience that he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago and is thus familiar with the arguments regarding the right to bear arms. He acknowledges "a tradition of gun ownership in this country that can be respected," and says that his academic studies convinced him gun ownership "is an individual right and not just the right of a militia."

His views are already well-known, and even the most right-wing ideologues understand that. But he has the capacity to share an understanding of their concerns, and give them at least the impression that they are understood. Of course, in a general election, Obama would be painted as a liberal - what Democrat wouldn't? - but I don't think that label will stick once he's heard from.

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