Friday, July 4, 2008

Shifty Obama

Here's a good editorial today from the NY Times about Obama's recent shifts toward the center. I agree with the ending, where they say that a candidate's shifts toward center in an general election are expected and necessary, but I do find some of them distressing, particularly the one about gun control in DC and illegal wiretapping. I have mixed feelings about the public financing issue (he could have worked within the system and then fixed it...but his denial of lobbyist funds is encouraging...but the hunt for high rollers is dismaying), and I have no problem with the faith-based initiatives - as long as they are carefully chosen, churches are often in a good position to provide aid to those who need it, and are better organized for that than the government is. I don't agree with him about the death penalty, but I understand why he holds that position. In a presidential race, I'm not looking for a candidate who agrees with me on every topic, but for someone whose judgment I feel I can trust. In the past, I have sometimes felt shaky on that with Obama, but he has usually risen to the occasion, particularly with the Reverend Wright affair and with the issue of negative campaigning. Here's a good article where he acknowledged some missteps in a rough week of the primaries. I would never expect a candidate to be perfect all the time, but the acknowledgement of missteps goes a very long way in my estimation of him.

He is of course a masterful and crafty politician (and not at all naive, as some would paint him). The fears on the right about his Chicago politics are not entirely unbased, but he'll have to play the game to the hilt in order to win, so I don't grudge him the occasional shifting positions, but I am a bit concerned over the gun control and wiretapping issues. The pattern in the past has been that he gets bogged down in the system (which anyone would), but then manages to rise above it (most clearly in the negative campaigning issue), and I hope that will prove to be the case here too.

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