The New York Times editorial board went to bed with a virgin and woke up with a … well, a pro, in milder terms, or so they seem to imply in today’s unhappy missive. The editorial castigates Obama for his replacement of just about everything he has professed from January 2007 to May 2008 with his all-new, 50%-more-“centery” agenda that rejects everything that made him attractive to the Left in the first place. And they wonder where it will all stop:
Senator Barack Obama stirred his legions of supporters, and raised our hopes, promising to change the old order of things. He spoke with passion about breaking out of the partisan mold of bickering and catering to special pleaders, promised to end President Bush’s abuses of power and subverting of the Constitution and disowned the big-money power brokers who have corrupted Washington politics.
Now there seems to be a new Barack Obama on the hustings. First, he broke his promise to try to keep both major parties within public-financing limits for the general election. His team explained that, saying he had a grass-roots-based model and that while he was forgoing public money, he also was eschewing gold-plated fund-raisers. These days he’s on a high-roller hunt.
Shock #1: Obama wants money, and scads of it. What the Times forgets to mention is that Obama the Reformer doesn’t just want to raise a lot of money, but that he also wants to avoid any limit on spending it. I don’t want to rain any more disillusionment on the Times, but that’s really the bigger part of the betrayal on reform, and hardly any of the media has mentioned it.
The new Barack Obama has abandoned his vow to filibuster an electronic wiretapping bill if it includes an immunity clause for telecommunications companies that amounts to a sanctioned cover-up of Mr. Bush’s unlawful eavesdropping after 9/11.
Shock #2: Obama won’t obstruct a bipartisan compromise that got 80 votes for cloture in the Senate. It would have been a lost cause anyway — Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd only got 13 other votes for the filibuster — but also, Obama doesn’t need the Code Pink/MoveOn vote any longer. In fact, this sends a clear signal that Obama considers them a millstone rather than a life preserver at this stage of the campaign. Besides, where else will they go — to Nader? How well did that work in 2000?
On top of these perplexing shifts in position, we find ourselves disagreeing powerfully with Mr. Obama on two other issues: the death penalty and gun control.
Their description of these shifts as “perplexing” provides some unintentional hilarity. What’s perplexing about this? The Times is out of the mainstream on both issues, as is the Left in general. Obama wants voters in the middle now, so he will change his principles like he does his lapel pin, as Charles Krauthammer notes in his column today, “A Man of Seasonal Principles”:
You’ll notice Barack Obama is now wearing a flag pin. Again. During the primary campaign, he refused to, explaining that he’d worn one after Sept. 11 but then stopped because it “became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism.” So why is he back to sporting pseudo-patriotism on his chest? Need you ask? The primaries are over. While seducing the hard-core MoveOn Democrats that delivered him the caucuses — hence, the Democratic nomination — Obama not only disdained the pin. He disparaged it. Now that he’s running in a general election against John McCain, and in dire need of the gun-and-God-clinging working-class votes he could not win against Hillary Clinton, the pin is back. His country ’tis of thee.
In last week’s column, I thought I had thoroughly chronicled Obama’s brazen reversals of position and abandonment of principles — on public financing of campaigns, on NAFTA, on telecom immunity for post-Sept. 11 wiretaps, on unconditional talks with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — as he moved to the center for the general election campaign. I misjudged him. He was just getting started.
Like the NYT editorial board, Krauthammer concludes that Obama will risk nothing for principle, but will abandon all for power. Unlike the Times, Krauthammer doesn’t find this “perplexing” or caterwaul about it like a jilted lover, mainly because Krauthammer didn’t buy the act in the first place. Krauthammer warns about the consequences of electing a such a man to high office:
Of course, once he gets there he will have to figure out what he really believes. The conventional liberal/populist stuff he campaigned on during the primaries? Or the reversals he is so artfully offering up now?
I have no idea. Do you? Does he?
Meanwhile, the NYT continues to believe:
We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.
There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.
If it will win Obama the election, we can expect to see “redefining” on all of these issues and more. He already began with Iraq yesterday, which the editorial board fails to mention in this piece. The last of Obama’s primary stands will have fallen, and we will be left with a cipher who will do or say anything to get what he wants.