Old spin: Obama heralds a new politics; New spin: Obama is a Machiavellian samurai

Lowry nails David Brooks on his Kmiec-esque act of transubstantiation this morning, by which the Messiah’s vices somehow magically become virtues. Consider it the political equivalent of “can God make a rock he can’t lift?” Only the Lightworker knows for sure:

I have to admit, I’m ambivalent watching all this. On the one hand, Obama did sell out the primary cause of his professional life, all for a tiny political advantage. If he’ll sell that out, what won’t he sell out? On the other hand, global affairs ain’t beanbag. If we’re going to have a president who is going to go toe to toe with the likes of Vladimir Putin, maybe it is better that he should have a ruthlessly opportunist Fast Eddie Obama lurking inside.

All I know for sure is that this guy is no liberal goo-goo. Republicans keep calling him naïve. But naïve is the last word I’d use to describe Barack Obama. He’s the most effectively political creature we’ve seen in decades. Even Bill Clinton wasn’t smart enough to succeed in politics by pretending to renounce politics.

Excitable Andy is also, predictably, excited. Lowry’s riposte:

[I]t’s interesting how the ground has shifted: He used to admire Obama because he represented something new and different in politics; now he admires him because he’s such an effective political fraud.

Is he that effective? He took plenty of abuse yesterday for his shamelessness in flip-flopping on public finance; follow the Excitable Andy link and read Barnett’s post to see how he might have pulled it off with more finesse. And of course his most egregious fraud, the great leather-bound speech on race to spin Wrightgate that blew up in his face a month later, didn’t seem to particularly impress anyone outside the media. I don’t begrudge him his reversal on public financing — I’d want McCain to do the same if he was banking $100 mil a month — and like Brooks I’m encouraged to see him showing the sort of useful ruthlessness that will come in handy on foreign policy, assuming it’s not a weapon he reserves for the left’s real enemies in the GOP. But can we please at least lay the “new brand of politics” crap to rest now? He lied, straight out, about ever pursuing a meeting with McCain to discuss the possibility of public financing; he lied, straight out, about being forced to raise huge sums privately to beat back the onslaught of Republican 527s since (a) there are no 527s attacking him right now and (b) given how decrepit the GOP’s message machine is these days, it’s unlikely that any 527s that do arise will do him much harm. He’ll say and do what he has to in order to get elected, just like every other politician in America. Nothing wrong with it in context, but nothing particularly Hopey or Changey about it, either.

I do completely agree with Brooks, though, about Obama being anything but politically naive. Check out his latest maneuver, leaning on MoveOn to shut down its own 527 and raise money via small donations through its PAC. That’s a luxury a guy staring at a $500 million take can afford since it’ll let him claim the high ground he lost with the public financing decision every time McCain tacitly blesses any attack groups that spring up on the GOP side. And needless to say, thanks to Obama, there’s no shortage of small donors these days on the left to keep shoveling money to MoveOn so the pinch won’t be as dreadfully bad as it might have been if they’d done this four years ago. Shrewd guy. Not a guy who’s going to institute anything like a “new politics,” but he’s no less shrewd for that.