Krauthammer: Mr Malleable

posted at 6:35 pm on June 27, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Has Barack Obama damaged his brand with a series of high-profile reversals on policy stands, on everything to FISA reform, gun control, and public financing, among other points?  Charles Krauthammer doesn’t believe he has, at least not among his main constituency, but recent polling may tell a different story in the key groups needed for victory in November.  Krauthammer believes that Mr. Malleable can survive any reversal, and hints that Obama has become a belief system in and of himself with his core supporters:

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.

Worry about the press? His FISA flip-flop elicited a few grumbles from lefty bloggers, but hardly a murmur from the mainstream press. Remember his pledge to stick to public financing? Now flush with cash, he is the first general-election candidate since Watergate to opt out. Some goo-goo clean-government types chided him, but the mainstream editorialists who for years had been railing against private financing as hopelessly corrupt and corrupting evinced only the mildest of disappointment.

Indeed, the New York Times expressed a sympathetic understanding of Obama’s about-face by buying his preposterous claim that it was a preemptive attack on McCain‘s 527 independent expenditure groups — notwithstanding the fact that (a) as Politico‘s Jonathan Martin notes, “there are no serious anti-Obama 527s in existence nor are there any immediate plans to create such a group” and (b) the only independent ad of any consequence now running in the entire country is an AFSCME-MoveOn.org co-production savaging McCain.

And yet, the New York Times seems to stand alone among newspapers in their reaction to Obama’s abandonment on public financing.  The Washington Post’s editorial board reamed Obama for his reversal, as did a number of other papers, especially since Obama had told them personally that he would stay within the system.  No less a progressive than Mark Shields pointed out exactly what Krauthammer notes in this column, making the point even more explicitly that Obama essentially lied about his reasons for pulling out of the race.

On FISA reform and gun control, Obama has had a little more political cover — but it hasn’t helped.  Howard Kurtz ripped his colleagues in the media for not reporting Obama’s old quotes on the DC gun ban earlier today.  Keith Olbermann had to defend himself from Glenn Greenwald yesterday for buying Obama’s spin on his support for the FISA reform compromise bill that contained telecom immunity.

Margaret Talev at McClatchy asked the big question yesterday — has Obama lost the one quality that made him special?

From the beginning, Barack Obama’s special appeal was his vow to remain an idealistic outsider, courageous and optimistic, and never to shift his positions for political expediency, or become captive of the Inside-the-Beltway intelligentsia, or kiss up to special interests and big money donors.

In recent weeks, though, Obama has done all those things.

He abandoned public campaign financing after years of championing it. Backed a compromise on wiretap legislation that gives telecom companies retroactive immunity for helping the government conduct spying without warrants. Dumped his controversial pastor of two decades — then his church — after saying he could no more abandon the pastor than abandon his own grandmother.

In other words, if Obama turns out to be just like everyone else in DC, shouldn’t we elect someone with experience and a track record?  The polls indicate that a lot of people are asking the same question.  Obama has stalled at a time when he should be ascending.  He and Hillary have started working together to unify the party, but instead of his numbers going up, they’re dropping slightly instead.  He has lost four points off his edge on McCain in the Time poll to fall into a virtual tie, and McCain has explicitly tied him in the Gallup tracking poll for three straight days.

What does this mean?  Obama isn’t making the sale in the middle.  Krauthammer may be right that the True Believers will never depart from Obama, but merely gaining the trust of the converted won’t win him the election.  He has to get the centrists, independents, and conservative Democrats on board, and right now John McCain is making inroads in these groups instead.  Obama has shifted his positions explicitly to convince these voters to support him, but he has made himself into the antithesis of what his campaign supposedly represents: the same, old, dishonest politics.  Instead of representing Hope and Change, he has broken trust with voters on issue after issue in a naked grab for power.

John McCain has reversed himself on off-shore drilling and the Bush tax cuts, as his opponents point out.  However, McCain acknowledges those changes and explains them (the oil situation has changed significantly and it has serious national-security implications, and McCain now admits that the Bush tax cuts worked).  Obama changes his position and tries to hoodwink people into believing that he hasn’t.  A gifted politician could get away with that sleight-of-hand once in a campaign, but when it starts becoming a habit, no one buys the act any longer — and Obama has a long string of reversals in just the last few weeks alone.  People get annoyed when a politician repeatedly insults their intelligence.

He has broken the brand, and at the moment in time when he needs the big lift, his lies and obfuscations have acted like an anchor with the swing voters who will decide this election.  Even if the True Believers never take off the blinders and see Obama’s feet of clay, that doesn’t mean Mr. Malleable will prevail.


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Obama should’ve moved to the centre as soon as Hillary looked beaten.

aengus on June 27, 2008 at 6:47 PM

That is the perfect description of this fool…Malleable..He has taken the term ‘Which way is the wind blowing’ to frightening levels…

He who lives by the public opinion poll…really has no convictions or brains….

BigWyo on June 27, 2008 at 6:50 PM

He will go where the wind blows, but unlike Clinton, he will go to our side, far less often.

Squid Shark on June 27, 2008 at 7:03 PM

One can only hope that the entire electorate is not totally blinded by the Obamassiah.
We need more issues to come up. We got lucky with the court rulings. Now we need more, to show him for what he is….or what he isn’t…whatever. lol

bridgetown on June 27, 2008 at 7:17 PM

he has broken trust with voters on issue after issue in a naked grab for power.

Yes, he has. Imagine that — a man who has spent his entire life lusting after power has demonstrated his willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve his ultimate goal of power — the U.S. presidency.

Shocking. (But only if you’re a leftist fool who believed all of Obama’s carefully-packaged, market-tested crapola about him being a “new” candidate of integrity).

AZCoyote on June 27, 2008 at 7:19 PM

Gumby for President!

TheBigOldDog on June 27, 2008 at 7:21 PM

Mr. Malleable? Or Mr. Silly Putty.

petefrt on June 27, 2008 at 7:22 PM

The Obama is a belief system to his core supporters which include the MSM.

TooTall on June 27, 2008 at 7:27 PM

OBama’s problem is the same as Kerry’s: he’s no good at “triangulating” the way the Master, Bill Clinton, was. For lefties like Kerry and Obama, they look like they’re obviously flip-flopping.

Clinton spent years in Arkansas learning how to look and talk “centrist.” Obama has spent so much of his adult life in lefty cocoons that he doesn’t know how to shift positions deftly.

McCain’s not that graceful at it, either, but at least he has the argument that when the facts (as opposed to the polls) change, he’s willing to change his mind.

Wethal on June 27, 2008 at 7:31 PM

“…Charles Krauthammer [on FAUX NEWS] doesn’t believe he has, at least not among his main constituency…

“When the facts change, I change my mind – what do you do, sir?” –Maynard Keynes

The Kraut… disagrees and yet Maynard has afore stated a completely different scope of versatile adaption and reasoning!

In debate or politics…how do you defeat a true pragmatist who is willing to consider changes that often overwhelm us as humble citizens in our daily lives?

Common sense.

It the military we used to refer to it as “field expedience”.

Well done soldier…!

J_Gocht on June 27, 2008 at 7:36 PM

the True Believers will never depart from Obama

…but they may not be enthusiastic enough to get up and vote come November, esp. since he’s running against someone less scary (to them) than Pres. Bush.

MamaAJ on June 27, 2008 at 7:55 PM

John McCain has reversed himself on off-shore drilling and the Bush tax cuts, as his opponents point out. However, McCain acknowledges those changes and explains them (the oil situation has changed significantly and it has serious national-security implications, and McCain now admits that the Bush tax cuts worked). Obama changes his position and tries to hoodwink people into believing that he hasn’t.

Yep, McCain can justify his reversals by citing changing conditions on the ground (and it is easy to argue that these positions benefit the American people) while Barry’s Machiavellian reversals do nothing for the country at large but benefit him, and him alone.

Buy Danish on June 27, 2008 at 7:59 PM

the True Believers will never depart from Obama

But they may not be quite as generous with their money. I look forward to Obamessiah’s June fundraising numbers.

If the Half a Billion Dollar Man drops again… Well, maybe the sick won’t be healed, the oceans won’t stop rising, and the Dem convention won’t be feeding people with [organic, of course] loaves and fishes courtesy of Obamessiah.

Wethal on June 27, 2008 at 8:04 PM

Obama has not changed his true view or basic principles – he just changes what he says. Once elected he can do what he really wants to do as long as congress and the supreme court let him. He is dodging and dancing to whatever tune will get him to the White House. Once there, he (and whoever is pulling the strings) will revert to his basic self. The Left and (most) of the True Believers understand this. As all progressive/liberl/socialists do, he must fool enough people to get elected where he has the power to execute the real damage. (Remember when Bill Clinton was elected promising to cut taxes? Once elected he explainged that he had to RAISE them. Then he apologized to his business cronies that he might have raised them too much! This will be Obama on every single issue!) At least McCain recognizes that he is changing, explains why he is changing, and cites the new evidence/situation dictating the change. Obama changes his words so he can get elected, but never actually changes his original view.

jerseyman on June 27, 2008 at 8:27 PM

What is really scary is no one seems to know what his true view or basic principles are…only words.

d1carter on June 27, 2008 at 8:59 PM

Obama, BIG FAT LIAR.

Chakra Hammer on June 27, 2008 at 9:04 PM

“…(Remember when Bill Clinton was elected promising to cut taxes? Once elected he explained that he had to RAISE them. Then he apologized to his business cronies that he might have raised them too much! This will be Obama on every single issue!) jerseyman on June 27, 2008 at 8:27 PM

Gotta luv olde Billo CLINTON…!

Hey jerseyman he put US, that’s the US of A right into the plus side of the ledger.

The dope[r] [Bush] in the Whitehouse now has put your children and grandchildren and YOUR GREAT GRAND CHILDERN into the “poor house” !

You don’t getit…do yah?
Run “US” right into the goddamn financial ditch…!

Hey jerseyman!
U dah babe…!

J_Gocht on June 27, 2008 at 9:15 PM

Is he not a disciple of Saul Alinsky? Didn’t Alinsky advise saying or doing whatever it takes to get elected and then giving the people true reform?

snaggletoothie on June 27, 2008 at 9:17 PM

Right you are Snaggletoothie. I grew up in Illinois and spent ten years in the Chicago area. What matters is what goes on in the backroom deals not what is said in public. That is just for show. Pelosi, Reid and Obama will take this country farther left and in the direction of the lefts special interests than the moderate independents in the middle would ever approve of.

KW64 on June 27, 2008 at 9:29 PM

snaggletoothie on June 27, 2008 at 9:17 PM

With respect to what…?

J_Gocht on June 27, 2008 at 9:32 PM

Why do lefties argue about what is going to happen to grandchildren, when their ideal world would have them aborted?

TugboatPhil on June 27, 2008 at 10:13 PM

He’s Gumby.

thatcher on June 27, 2008 at 10:50 PM

OOPS! For all you kids out there, Gummy was a precursor to Claymation. He was an innocent little guy made out of clay who could shape shift into any shape he needed to be. Very lovable, and he never hit anyone over the head with an anvil which was the genre of the day.

thatcher on June 27, 2008 at 10:52 PM

Don’t forget Gumby’s horse, Pokey (Hillary?). Just having some fun.

Glynn on June 27, 2008 at 11:00 PM

Once Obama is through with all of us the Clinton’s are going to seem like Reagan. A fading but warm memory.

elduende on June 27, 2008 at 11:29 PM

J_Gocht on June 27, 2008 at 7:36 PM

You’re a genuine idiot.

Jaibones on June 27, 2008 at 11:35 PM

As all progressive/liberl/socialists do, he must fool enough people to get elected where he has the power to execute the real damage.

Unfortunately, Odrama seems to be doing just exactly that.

Connie on June 27, 2008 at 11:48 PM

Krauthammer is dead on as usual.

The only change going on with Obama is the MSM and hollywood have a candidate that they like and will spin for on a daily basis.

If this guy becomes President,he will not accomplish half of what Bush has but the democrats will proclaim him and his “legacy” the greatest of all time.

The same way they did the Clintons,but somehow that great
legacy and supreme leadership was not good enough to knock off a guy with no legacy and zero accomplishment in the democratic primary.

The democratic party,pretty much just Obama with his staff
leading a herd of sheep.

Baxter Greene on June 28, 2008 at 12:13 AM

I’ve noticed that Obama has a tell: “What I’ve said all along…” That line is almost always followed by a flip and/or flop.

InDubly on June 28, 2008 at 12:34 AM

Krauthammer: Mr Malleable

Barack Hussein Obama =
Lightweight Gumby w/extra large ears!

byteshredder on June 28, 2008 at 1:35 AM

It seems like Hillary might be influencing Obama on the political game more than previously thought.

MB007 on June 28, 2008 at 2:20 AM

Obama is a charlatan. A tall skinny phony.

Terrye on June 28, 2008 at 6:58 AM

He didn’t learn from Kerry – flip flopping brazenly lying about your positions and condescending to the public didn’t work for Kerry and one suspects it won’t work for Obama.

It is becoming clear that he wants power for power’s sake and nothing more.

Ares on June 28, 2008 at 7:41 AM

Soros’ Pinocchio Piper at play.
Asinus asinum fricat.
Those who want Marx in their crotch support BHO.
Those with functioning brain cells see right through BHO.

The MSM has falsely propagated the presumption that Obama can not be defeated by anti-Obama votes. Even the RNC has wilted its premise, requesting support by matching Obama as closely as possible. Stupid is as stupid does. It’s one thing for democrat jackasses to play dumb; that’s their role in life. But it’s another thing for the greatest of land mammals, the elephant, to play the role of a jackass–and conservatives defy the RNC RINO because playing a jackass is as unnatural as it is foolish for the great symbol to immitate as for an educated person to emmulate.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. There is nothing NEW about BHO, whether you see the consistent inconsistency in the person or in his “virtual platform” that has no reality.

The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived:
Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur!

maverick muse on June 28, 2008 at 7:50 AM

Kerry had his own real record, whether he owned up to it or not, Kerry had his own substance and backbone, even if crooked. When Kerry flipped, he’d explain why. That Kerry changed his mind provided ammo for his opponent.

BHO has his very real record that is kept under wraps to the best of Soros’ ability. Unlike Kerry, BHO has absolutely no backbone. Bobama is absolutely malleable. It doesn’t matter what is on the table for discussion–BHO will never say the same thing twice in a row, and there is NO SURPRISE that BHO jumps from one radical extreme position to the OPPOSITE because for BHO and MARXISTS, WORDS MEAN NOTHING other than what you can get from saying them. Gaddafi has Obama pegged correctly: The imported BHO will say anything in order to get elected while hoisting a carnival “clearance sale” as the Egyptians put it.

USA FOR SALE
BHO’08

maverick muse on June 28, 2008 at 8:03 AM

Obama is not going to shake loose his core supporters- the delusional fanatics. He could tell them that the US is going to convert to Islam and they’d stand and cheer.

I do think he’ll lose the very few thinking moderate Democrats that exist, as evidence in the video a few days ago.

drjohn on June 28, 2008 at 8:25 AM

Elect a smarmy metrosexual POTUS? It ain’t gonna happen.

T J Green on June 28, 2008 at 9:56 AM

USA FOR SALE BHO’08 maverick muse on June 28, 2008 at 8:03 AM

First he sells his own soul, then the US of A. The Dhimmicrats could not have picked a worse candidate.

Mojave Mark on June 28, 2008 at 10:27 AM

Clinton won in 1992 in large part because the left allowed him to campaign to the center without raising any protests over things like the Sister Soljuah remarks, because they were confident it was just an act (which it was in 1993-94). The fact that there was no Internet then to allow a million dissenting voices to bloom made it easier to pull that off — just get the special interest groups’ leaders to shut up for seven months and you’re in the White House. As the Greenwald-Olbermann tiff shows, executing the same maneuver this time to allow Obama to move to the center without protest may be a lot more difficult.

jon1979 on June 28, 2008 at 10:43 AM

Well put, Ed.

Wildcatter1980 on June 28, 2008 at 4:55 PM