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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Attention: Obama Says You Haven’t Been Listening if You Think He’s Moving to the Center

posted by on July 8 at 12:15 PM

And I think he’s talking to me and you and everyone Slog knows. Via The Caucus:

POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. — Barack Obama had heard quite enough of the complaints that he is pirouetting, leaping, lurching even, toward the political center.

He is at heart, he told a crowd in suburban Atlanta, a pretty progressive guy who just happens to pack along a complicated world view.

“Look, let me talk about the broader issue, this whole notion that I am shifting to the center,” he said. “The people who say this apparently haven’t been listening to me.”

He defended his recent statements on gun control and federal funds for religious groups, and broadly summarized his philosophy this way:

“I believe in a whole lot of things that make me progressive and put me squarely in the Democratic camp,” he said. But, he noted, he does not believe that the active hand of government is a replacement, say, for parental responsibility in education.

“I believe in personal responsibility, I also believe in faith,” he said. “That’s not something new; I’ve been talking about that for years. So the notion that this is me trying to look” – he waves his hands around his head – “centrist is not true.”

Noted. Not necessarily agreed with, Senator, but noted.

RSS icon Comments


Who is this "center" constituency that keeps advocating for warrentless spying and dictatorial presidential power?

Posted by Original Andrew | July 8, 2008 12:32 PM

Politics is like Roulette, and Obama is merely the croupier. The wheel slows, the ball drops into the center. The croupier merely calls where it falls.
Or perhaps politics is like relativistic space. Obama's been walking a straight line all along, it's just that political space is curved in time.

Posted by kinaidos | July 8, 2008 12:33 PM

Memo to BHO: Uhhh...the issue isn't faith or parenting, dingus. It's your flip-flop on the FISA filibuster. The fact that you now support the right of the Executive branch to break the rule of law for years without notifying anybody, or having any oversight. That you think it's in the best interest of the nation for the government to arbitrarily spy on some of its citizens.

If this is true, and you have indeed changed your mind, fine. Tell us why. If we are mistaken, correct us. Until then I will continue to think that you are just like every other politician out there: self-serving, self-aggrandizing, and without much of a moral compass. The end. Good-bye.

Posted by fluteprof | July 8, 2008 12:35 PM

Eli, can you document Obama's shift from the left to the center? As in, what did he say that made you think he started on the left?

Posted by elenchos | July 8, 2008 12:37 PM

@4 where the hell have you been? that's like asking to document where exactly we think GWB began to fuck up.
i'm already sick to death of Obama talking out of both sides of his ass, it's sickening. does he think we're stupid? does he think we don't see it? it's one thing to move to the center to try and win the election, but it is another thing entirely to tell the people he used to get the nomination that they are stupid for not understanding his "nuance". give me a fucking break. i liked obama a lot, but i don't know where he gets off acting like he is the smartest man on earth and we peons are just to stupid to see his masterful plan. go fuck yourself, obama. you're not getting another penny from this democrat.

Posted by mr. ford | July 8, 2008 12:44 PM

We won't support NO-Bama whatsoever and will re-defeat him in November.

Posted by clintonsarmy | July 8, 2008 12:46 PM

Wow, Mr. Ford is touchy. Too bad Obama can't just adopt the whole Kucinich platform; he'd win probably 95% of the vote then.

Posted by Fnarf | July 8, 2008 12:47 PM

Fnarf, winning isn't everything. If we as a nation are not smart enough to be able to see the evil in the Republican platform, then we have all failed each other and we get what we deserve.

If BHO claims he is a different kind of politician, then he shouldn't be surprised when folks get in up in arms when he displays politics as usual.

If he has so little integrity that he will actually change positions in order to win an election, then he should at least be man enough to admit it.

Right now he's just coming off like an egotistical ass-whipe.

Posted by fluteprof | July 8, 2008 12:54 PM

I gotta say, I'm with Obama on this one. People expect their candidate to be ONE THING AND ONE THING ONLY!!! GODDAMNIT!!! Guess what? Obama is a well thought person. So when he says he will end the war in Iraq, and then mentions that he would leave room for adjustments, people freak.

Does he really have to explain that he can't give a definite answer to a hypothetical question?

I guess so...

Posted by Mike in MO | July 8, 2008 12:55 PM

Also, we peons are just to stupid to see his masterful plan

That would be toO. Ironic, isn't it?

Posted by Mike in MO | July 8, 2008 12:57 PM

So nobody can show me evidence that Obama ever started on the left before supposedly moving? It seems kind of funny, that on the one hand, this is such an outrage, while on the other hand, the evidence of this massive outrage is so hard to find.

Posted by elenchos | July 8, 2008 1:02 PM

Obama was never on the left people. WTF?

Your idea of the left must be a lot different than mine.

Posted by Jay | July 8, 2008 1:03 PM

It's not over yet. This has only begun. The wolf will soon shed its costume and most on here will be remarking about how could anyone have possibly forseen that Obama would be more conservative than Bush. Whatever...

Posted by Gay Seattle | July 8, 2008 1:06 PM

I agree with Obama; everyone who is flipping out about his so-called shift to the center never really paid attention to what he was saying before. Both the left and right bought into this "most liberal senator" hype and now some people are sad because he's not the radical savior they were looking for.

Sure, during the primary he wasn't very specific about some of this stuff, which allowed people to project all their own hopes onto him, but is that his fault? He is a politician, he is running for president of the USA, which is not a progressive country.

I'm pretty progressive politically, but I'm also a realist. If we can get someone as president who is not fucking horrible, maybe people could actually do some proactive organizing for social change. Obama has repeatedly said that his supporters are the ones who can and need to do the work of change, which is one way democracy can work.

However I do wish he would support a filibuster of the FISA Amendments Act - guess I better call the senators today.

Posted by asteria | July 8, 2008 1:07 PM

Is he to the left of McSame? Sure, but so is Genghis Khan and Maggie Thatcher.

But, as with Howard Dean before him, I find it amusing how you "savvy" Net roots failed to clue in that he's not hard left (in US political terms).

Mind you, even your "left" candidates in this country are "right" in most other civilized nations' political spectra (that's the plural of spectrum, if you failed Latin).

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 8, 2008 1:07 PM

Ask and ye shall receive:

Slate has a good run-down of all of Obama's shifts. There are enough out there to give any Obama supporter pause, I would think.

And my hunch is more are coming...

Posted by fluteprof | July 8, 2008 1:10 PM

Seriously, I think a lot of people on here actually bought into the whole elitist, latte drinking, commie, lefty BS from FOX news more than the rubes voting republican did. Fucking Hilarious. Heres a clue for everyone flipping out that Obama isnt actual a bed wetting liberal whos playbook comes straight from Chomsky... No serious presidential candidate ever has been, or will be. Sorry. In the meantime, fluteproof, winning actually IS everything. The democrats have finally realized that and since 2006 are doing something they havent done a lot of lately, WINNING.

Posted by longball | July 8, 2008 1:18 PM

11: Exactly. People simply projected all this left-wing ultra-progressive beliefs into Obama.

I'm basically a socialist and I've always seen Obama as being a post-Clinton centrist/center-right politican, maybe just a little more progressive than a John Kerry. Obama is far from my ideal, but my ideal will never win public office. The national discourse has been moving to the right for the last couple of decades. That's a fact. Puting it into reverse isn't going to change that.

Here's what I like about Obama: I think he would be a competent and respectable president, one who the country could be proud of, one who would impress our allies, one who would bring African Americans back into the national discussion, and fianlly, one who would begin the process of steadily moving the country back to the center from the right.

Liberals see this as an opportunity to completely reverse the pendulum, hence the feelings of betrayal when Obama brings politics-as-usual to bear on his campaign. But that's the wrong way of looking at it. This country has been seriously detrailed and simply jumping to the left isn't going to put it back on the tracks. We need competent domestic and foreign policy before we can start talking about instituting strong and lasting social and political change.

Saving this country isn't a job for a leftist- we're past that point. What we need is realistic and flexible leadership, not ideological purity. We had eight years of that bullshit with Bush.

What people don't understand is that political sea changes don't happen overnight. Political struggle is all about long haul attrition.

Posted by Jay | July 8, 2008 1:19 PM

Since when is following the law and upholding the 4th Amendment a pet issue for us raging, moonbat, commie-terrahists of the so-called "left?"

Posted by Original Andrew | July 8, 2008 1:19 PM

Can we stop all this fighting and focus on what really matters? A town 30 minutes from me (Powder Springs) got a mention on Slog!

Posted by Georgia Guy | July 8, 2008 1:19 PM

Some of us were watching all along ... and some of us are still looking ahead.

ˇSi, soy PUMA!

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 8, 2008 1:22 PM

19: It is an important issue. But you're turning it into a single issue cause (like abortion, marijuana legalization, gun rights, etc.). There's nothing more counter-productive politically than the single-issue voter. Instead of fixating on the few negatives, consider the alternative.

Posted by Jay | July 8, 2008 1:24 PM

The more he talks the more he loses. He was a perfect blank slate before. Some of us were simultaneously amused and alarmed how people projected. But, you know, things could be worse. It's a learning experience. In four or eight or twelve or... years you'll get to see this eternal recurrence recur. You Won't Get Fooled Again but several millions will.

Posted by umvue | July 8, 2008 1:24 PM

fluteprof, you might want to change your user name is you're going to start making predictions again. You completely discredited yourself predicting a big win for Hillary by the superdelegates in June... like a dozen times a day, every day, for months. "Get used to it."

Posted by JC | July 8, 2008 1:25 PM

#18: Agreed.

I read Obama's books before he was even considered a serious contender, and I never got "super lefty" from him, merely "post-Baby Boomer" liberal. Someone who could reinvent the Democrats out of their defensive crouch. His move to the center should have been expected during this phase of the campaign, its certainly less center-moving that Clinton did or Hillary would have. But the difference here is Obama refuses to keep letting the Right define the terms of the debate.

Posted by Jason | July 8, 2008 1:25 PM

13: He's not going to be more conservative than Bush. Give me a fucking break. How retarded can one possibly be?

Posted by Jay | July 8, 2008 1:27 PM

Flutpruf! Amazing. Slate has detailed documents showing Obama has moved to a whole set of centrist positions from his previous, ever so slightly different centrist positions!

So again: there is no evidence at all that he was ever a liberal, is there?

Posted by elenchos | July 8, 2008 1:29 PM

Whatever he calls himself, there's one thing I can't stomach. It's tax dollars going to fucking religion. It's bad enough that these fucking frauds are tax exempt, but to actually give them money so they can build phony creationist "museums" and pay off child rape lawyers makes me puke. And worse, they are the problem not the cure, so his horseshit about them being "partners in solving" this nation's problems is just that, HORSESHIT!

Posted by Vince | July 8, 2008 1:33 PM

@18 Very well said.

Truth is, right now we're having to take a good long look at the fact that the U.S. is NOT a progressive country, and a candidate as liberal as we all wish BHO would be would never win a national election. That's incredibly frustrating, but I don't blame Obama for that.

Posted by Hernandez | July 8, 2008 1:35 PM

Honestly, if we wanted a candidate who was going to triangulate constantly and shamelessly pander for votes, then we would have voted for the Clintons. Representing us and our values is why we voted for Obama in the first place, but maybe it was just imagining him to be some kind of liberal messiah.

Meh, given the total failure of the despicable Democratic Congress over the last two years, I don't know if it really matters whether we get Obama or McCain. We're gonna get the same psycho right-wing policies from the Demoncrats or the Retardicans. Members of both parties are just the puppets of the rich, and if there is one thing we can be 100% sure of, the rich will get wealthier no matter the outcome for the rest of us.

Posted by Original Andrew | July 8, 2008 1:36 PM

30: Why not vote for Nader then, genius?

Posted by Jay | July 8, 2008 1:37 PM

Vince @ 28,

But don't you see? The American Baby Jayzus needs your tax dollars TO LIVE!! He'll die without the constant flow of that precious green gold.

And then Gawd fearing Ma and Pa Cul-de-Sac will be punished with fires, foreclosures, floods, daymnation and the failure of their Jenny Craig diets!!!

Oh wait, that's stuff's already happening.

Well it'll get much worse if the guvmit stops paying Jayzus!!

Posted by Original Andrew | July 8, 2008 1:43 PM

Jay @ 31,

I'm ackshally leaning towards Cynthia Mc Kinney. She'll slap the shee-it outta that nasty McSame in the general.

Posted by Original Andrew | July 8, 2008 1:47 PM


"pause" for what? to vote for McGrampy?

does one need to be reminded of the dozens of 180s McSame's been pulling in his ridiculous veering to the RIGHT over the past few years?

i know there are people out there that put every single hope and dream for a messianic leftist candidate on obama.

but not everyone did, and those of us that didn't are just fine to take the OVERALL good with the occasional, predictable bad.

all of this "sold us down the river" and "lesser of two evils" talk these past few days is getting fucking ridiculous.

do you really think an obama presidency would be the same or worse than the past eight years, or the next four if he's not elected?

you'd rather lose the supreme court for good, see roe v. wade overturned, continue the ill-conceived and ill-managed wars and add new fronts to it, and a completely mismanage the economy and domestic policy rather than to settle for a guy who is just not the perfect person you might have built him up to be (or that YOUR candidate that didn't get the nod was actually PERFECT, and in this same general election would say everything exactly as you would have them say, perfectly to your ears, and perfectly to every other person's ears who might have slightly different views)?

i just don't get it. oh, the outrage! oh!

Posted by chops | July 8, 2008 1:48 PM

While I get that there are Obama supporters who are disappointed in his evolving campaign, I get the sense that this "outrage" is primarily driven by spurned Clinton supporters who are building straw-man versions of an Obama supporter and trying to knock that down. ECB is the primary example of a mischief-maker here.

I supported Obama from the beginning precisely because he's a Centrist who leans left (he's not right of Center). And, to the previous poster who said that the Country has been drifting right for decades, I disagree. The Country is on slow but steady march to the left, and the Republicans have had to make more adjustments than have the democrats.

In the end, I'll vote for 1 degree in the right direction, which, over a period of years, accounts for a hell of a lot of change in the right direction. To wit, look at the distance that Bush was able to move the Country after winning by a single point.

Get smart people. Wake up.

Posted by Timothy | July 8, 2008 1:55 PM
Posted by laterite | July 8, 2008 1:56 PM

Jay @ 13 -- I wouldn't worry that Obama will be more conservative than Bush.

I would be concerned, however, that Obama will move the whole country to the right more successfully and more durably than Bush could ever hope to do.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 8, 2008 1:57 PM

chops @ 34,

Look, US America is going down no matter who "wins" in November. Implementing some sound policies might delay disaster in the short term, but no one has the balls to ask d'uhmericans to make the sacrifices that are necessary to bring our house in order.

Can you imagine the serpentine US Congress asking their puppetmasters in the Corporate America/Establishment Media/Big Religion Crime Plexus to pay their fair share--or any--taxes. Cue the laugh trax!!

And even if they did, then they would never in a gazillion years get elected because the general public will only vote for liars who tell them exactly what they want to hear.

McSame gets elected and US America explodes Death Star-style since he'll push the button five minutes after the inauguration, but at least it'll be over with quickly.

Posted by Original Andrew | July 8, 2008 2:05 PM

38: The reason no one makes any sacrifices to save the country is because of the defeatist attitude expressed in your post. Sure, if we all sit around having a cynical circle jerk, nothing is going to get done. Fuck, at least Obama calls for service and some level of civic participation. It's more than we're going to get from the ever-pessimistic faction of the left.

Posted by Jay | July 8, 2008 2:11 PM

Flutpruf et al...

I just read that Salon article. That's what has you in knots?


Get a grip, man. The changes therein are minor. Add to that the nuanced views on late-term abortion and this is truly the model for tempest in a teapot.

Again, I think this "outrage" is mostly sour-grapes from Clinton supporters, who seem to forget that the Clintons play this game as well if not better than most.

Posted by Timothy | July 8, 2008 2:11 PM

As I've said before, I don't support Obama b/c he's a flaming liberal; I support him in part b/c he's not a mouth-breathing absolutist.

Positions change, people. They just do. What we have currently in DC is an administration that doesn't change--regardless of the facts. Changing one's position, if indeed Obama is doing that, isn't necessarily a weakness.


Posted by Balt-O-Matt | July 8, 2008 2:21 PM

Let's step back for a moment and consider--has a "liberal" ever been elected President of the United States? Have we not always been ruled by people who are center-left, center, center-right? We've never had a fully Leftist government here.

If you reply, "What about FDR," then explain how the internment of the Japanese is "liberal." If you still consider FDR our only leftist president, then, well, okay consider how bad things had to get to get him in office.

And you wonder why Obama is trying to look centrist when we have over 200 years of centrist or right-wing rule?

Sure, I'd like him to be true to his progressive base. Sure I'd like him to break this historical mold.

I also want him elected.

Is it painful to watch him Do The Dance toward the Center? Of course it is.

Does it mean I'm ready to abandon him and vote for Nader or not at all? Of course not.

Posted by Andy Niable | July 8, 2008 2:34 PM

@35 for the very insightful win.

This is all bitter people like ECB setting up straw men cause they're upset.

News flash - McSame is a lot WORSE - every day of every week of every month of every year.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 8, 2008 2:41 PM

OA @ 38 --

it's not the congress, it's the supreme court that can make actual differences in day-to-day life.

it's worth a vote.

if you think there's no difference between the two candidates, there's nothing more to talk about.

Posted by chops | July 8, 2008 3:00 PM

chops @ 44,

I disagree. Ultimately, Congress is the problem due to our representatives' grotesque, spineless, corrupt failure to uphold the constitution, maintain the separation of powers and do their basic jobs.

They're nothing more than a worthless royal court filled with criminal co-conspirators at this point.

Posted by Original Andrew | July 8, 2008 3:37 PM

OA, um, excuse me, but we here in Seattle have a Congressman who represents our interests, so we're doing all we can do.

Other than using our FSM-given ability to file war crimes charges in International Criminal Court ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 8, 2008 4:20 PM

Will in Seattle @ 46,

So how's that been working out for us?

Oh, right.

Posted by Original Andrew | July 8, 2008 5:37 PM

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