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The real Obama

Running in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama staked his campaign on the proposition that he was the Ivory Soap candidate on the issue of Iraq. His opposition to the war was purer than the rest of the Democratic field’s. Having been an Illinois state legislator at the time the roll was called in the United States Senate, he had not cast a vote to authorize it. Free of the encumbrance of responsibility at the time of the Senate vote, he was able to present himself to Democrats as the candidate who was a visionary opponent of a misguided war.

Believing that she had something like a lock on the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton pivoted to the general election before the Iowa caucus. She refused to apologize for her vote on the war. Moveover, only last fall she took a responsible position on the Kyl-Lieberman resolution urging the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. When she did so, Obama hammered her for it.

Obama didn’t vote on the Kyl-Lieberman resolution any more than he had on the authorization for the use of miliatary force on Iraq. (He was out campaigning.) Indeed, he didn’t even announce his opposition to the bill until after Clinton had voted in favor of it. Nevertheless, he found Clinton’s vote a useful tool to use against her and he used it with fervor.

The day after securing the Democratic nomination, however, Obama appeared at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington and called for “boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, whose Quds force has rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.” I provided the details on Obama’s naked cynicism regarding this issue in “Opportunism knocks, part 3.” Obama was pivoting to the general election.

Today Charles Krauthammer documents Obama’s steps away from his position at the far left of the Democratic Party toward the center of the electorate for the general election. Even better than the instances Krauthammer cites, however, are the accompanying observations:

Normally, flip-flopping presidential candidates have to worry about the press. Not Obama. After all, this is a press corps that heard his grandiloquent Philadelphia speech — designed to rationalize why “I can no more disown [Jeremiah Wright] than I can disown my white grandmother” — then wiped away a tear and hailed him as the second coming of Abraham Lincoln. Three months later, with Wright disowned, grandma embraced and the great “race speech” now inoperative, not a word of reconsideration is heard from his media acolytes.

Krauthammer likens the media worship of Obama to Communists following the party line: “[H]is media swooners seem to accept his every policy reversal with an equanimity unseen since the Daily Worker would change the party line overnight — switching sides in World War II, for example — whenever the wind from Moscow changed direction.”

Vote for your enemy, Garry Wills cynically advised college audiences in the fall of 1972, he has nobody to sell out to but you. Writing in the same spirit, Krauthammer concludes:

The truth about Obama is uncomplicated. He is just a politician (though of unusual skill and ambition). The man who dared say it plainly is the man who knows Obama all too well. “He does what politicians do,” explained Jeremiah Wright.

The real Obama is the guy who wants to be president so badly that he has suppressed the sense of embarrassment or shame experienced by normal people under similar circumstances. But the real Obama is also the man of the left who doesn’t know much about anything in particular except how to win friends and influence people.

UPDATE: Coinciding with Krauthammer’s observation on Obama’s media swooners, today’s New York Times shows how to toe the line in “For Obama, a pragmatist’s shift toward the center.” I think that makes the Times the Democratic Party’s Daily Worker.

AND THIS JUST IN FROM IVORYDALE TECH CENTER: “‘Ivory Soap candidate’? Don’t drag a perfectly American innovation into Obama’s campaign!”

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