Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Politics of Confusion

In the "Audacity of Hope," Obama seems most interested in battling the Great Partisan Straw Man, but in fact, since his campaign began, he's swung blindly at times, knocking down would be supporters without thinking. He gets all holier than thou when referring to social security as being in "crisis" and oddly believes he's speaking truth to the likes of Paul Krugman who because he disagrees with Obama is then subjected to a Robert Gibbs authored oppo-attack. Yet, he's afraid of running on a truly universal health care plan that includes a mandate (something nearly all experts agree is necessary for universal coverage) and instead decides he wants to seem politically courageous on the wildly unpopular notion of giving drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants. Although his muddled response to the question in a debate could set the stage for a general election battle on immigration he'd probably rather avoid if he wins the nomination.

More recently, we learn that he once hedged on the issue of a woman's right to choose but, in what could come back to haunt him next fall, at the outset of his political career (barely 12 years ago), he outlined a host of very liberal positions on guns and the death penalty.

All this speaks less to political principal than it does to political confusion. Afterall, on the issue that got Obama elected to the U.S. Senate- his early opposition to the Iraq War - he's been nearly silent which has made even some of his strongest supporters doubt his conviction to ending the war.

So who is Obama really? After the initial excitement of his candidacy has worn off, are we left with someone who at once wants us to believe he's principled and above the current political divide, or are we left with a potential nominee who just doesn't quite get it?

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