Update Obama Moves Center?

Daniel Larison responded to my earlier post responding to his post here.

DL writes:

Update: C.J. Smith responds with some interesting points, but I think he is confusing Obama’s general policy record on some things (e.g., trade, guns) with his specific statements about NAFTA and the D.C. gun ban. It’s true that Obama is generally a free trader, but one who will sometimes oppose free-trade agreements, such as CAFTA, when they are strongly opposed by his constituents, but it’s also true that he adopted a very strong anti-NAFTA line for the purposes of wooing labour support in the primaries and then once the nomination was his he could revert back to his support for the agreement. NAFTA is the best example of a case where he simply demagogued an issue for votes while making clear to the interests that had a large stake in maintaining the status quo that he wasn’t seriously going to re-negotiate the agreement. On the D.C. gun ban, his campaign said that he thought it was constitutional, which they have since tried to run away from by calling it an ”inartful” statement. I suppose it depends on what the meaning of “constitutional” is, right? Once the decision came down, suddenly the ban was unconstitutional. On public financing, you can understand why he did it, but that doesn’t change the fact that he unceremoniously threw out what he had pledged to do.

Re: The first sentence, where Daniel says I’ve confused general policy with talk, he’s right. Or rather I don’t really care about how candidates talk on the trail. I think a political pander happens only when they actually change their policy stance for no other reason than convenience or to gain votes.

So in that sense, I was pointing out that Obama hadn’t (for most of those) changed his policy stances, so I didn’t see (policy-wise) much of the CW “tack right” meme. The one exception possibly being the welfare ad.

I think the press might be guilty of the same move (in reverse) that Daniel says I’ve made: namely confusing change in speech/talk with actual change in policy.

No doubt Obama is a guy who likes a great deal of nuance to his policy positions. Could be that is how he actually thinks about things or because it leaves him plenty of room to be vague and/or maneuver in speaking. Or both. And as Daniel is correct in pointing out, BO is now emphasizing the “centrist” elements of his own policy to the exclusion of the other sides/nuance of his views (i.e. leftward leaning).

Published in: on July 2, 2008 at 8:14 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Congrats on the head nod from Larison.

  2. thanks. he’s definitely one of the best out there.

    peace. cj

    have you got going on GNP?

  3. No copies available in Calgary, had to order it on Monday. Should be here in a couple of days. In the mean time, I’m finishing up Sullivan’s The Conservative Soul.

  4. All this talk about CHANGE,

    However, rather than being different OBAMA, appears to be nothing more than a masterful politician. Giving incredible speeches which are high in inspiration but low in substance, a detailed big picture devoid of the minutiae on how we get there.

    His speeches are purposely vague and leaves a lot of wiggle room or a back door it seems.

    For the sake of political expediency, in order that he name would not confuse the masses, he stressed his decades of attending a church, then discarded his religious instructor of the church, back-tracked on a written and verbal pledge, and snubbed the muslim community, pandered for the Jewish vote by speaking on status of Jerusalem to the lights that Bush has not even dared to. Now the main reason for his ascendancy, his JUDGEMENT in being against the war in Iraq and pledge to bring the troops home, is now being REFINED.

    Blame it on nuanced arguments if you want, but it early supporters are now filled with doubts, but then again these same supporter, will never support McCain anyway, so he chasing the middle, as McCain chases the right. Like I said, just masterful

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