Earlier today, John wondered whether a lot of Democrats who voted for Barack Obama on the theory that he was a staunch antiwar candidate are having second thoughts. It’s a legitimate question, and it extends beyond the Iraq war. In fact, it turns out that an “internet petition” has been launched to pressure Obama to flip back to opposing legislation that would immunize telecommunications companies that participated in the Bush administration’s warrantless intercept surveillance program.
Perhaps I’m overestimating Obama, but it’s difficult to imagine him switching his position on this matter yet again, and least of all under pressure from leftists nearly all of whom will vote for him regardless. For some leftists, I suppose, signing an internet petition is a partial antidote for buyer’s remorse.
The interesting question is not whether Obama will continue to tack towards the center as a candidate — that’s a virtual certainty. The interesting question is what he’ll do if elected president.
In that event, it’s quite likely that Obama will move back towards the left, since that’s where his sympathies have always been and since, once elected, he’ll feel less constrained in the short term. But it’s almost certain that Obama won’t satisfy his leftist supporters when it comes to foreign, defense, and security policy. That’s mostly because Obama is far too intelligent to embrace leftist indifference to obvious national security concerns.
Thus, for reasons of pragmatism and patriotism, Obama will be quite keen, for example, to prevent a successful attack on the homeland. Indeed, I suspect that Obama’s current position with respect to surveillance of terrorists (including suits against companies that cooperate in that surveillance) is not just the product of strategic political thinking but also a reflection of what he’d like to be able to do as president. Let’s hope so.
If Obama is elected, I expect the left quickly to divide into those who express their remorse and those who sublimate it and get with the program. Both factions should be well represented. In other words, expect lots of internet petitions.