Presidential nominee moves to center, water remains wet

We haven’t had a lot of discussion around here about Obama’s recent dramatic tacking to the middle. It’s been a pretty high-profile issue on several of the blogs I read, although some of them argue that it’s a bit coincidental due to the events that have framed the campaign over the last few weeks (the FISA bill, Heller, etc.). Still, some people are getting pretty upset that the campaign they cheered has taken on a different tone now that the primaries are over. In particular, a lot of people are worried that he’s going to let the media and the Republican party frame the race on their terms, the way Kerry and Gore did.

What prompted me to start this thread was a post I just read at John Scalzi’s site. I’ve been a bit disappointed by some of the campaign’s recent behavior, but I think his perspective is pretty reassuring.

So what do people think? Is Obama going to run this race on his terms, the way he did through the primary, or is he going to get mired in trivia and backpedaling as his predecessors often have?

The faith-based initiatives thing had me pretty upset earlier today.

There are still places in the United States — some which I can see right out my window, thank you very much — where there lives a significant number of people who are under the impression Barack Obama is a Islamicist mole whose first act as president will be to suicide bomb himself in the Oval Office.

This would be so terrible. On a less rational angle, this would be completely ironicly awesome. I’m trying to picture what Fox news does in reaction.

Obama hasn’t done anything to bother me too much yet. If he pulls an LBJ on Iraq it’s difficult to describe how mad me and the rest of the left are going to be, though.

I think the Scalzi post you linked sums up my feelings pretty well. I never thought of the man as some kind of messiah (an idea that I only hear as an accusation directed at his supporters, never from his supporters). You can’t sit around waiting for a candidate who is going to agree with you on every single issue, every single time, unless you want to run for President yourself.

I still think he’s running a tactically brilliant campaign, and I recognize the recent tacks to the middle as part of that even though I disagree with them on substance. As Scalzi says, he’s aiming not just to win, but to win big. This is not going to turn out to be anything like the Kerry or Gore campaigns.

Me too, until I looked more closely at what he was proposing. He’s basically co-opting the Bush’s name to do something pretty different. Something which I don’t see much to object to, and which is a brilliant campaign tactic.

The FISA vote though? Pretty disgusted with that.

Mostly this shit just makes me glad that I was never that enthusiastic about Obama in the first place. He still gets my vote for not being John McCain, though. Perhaps that indicates that I should have higher standards.

I’ve heard it said that Obama is actually a conventional politician. Albeit a cunning one.

Who’s surprised?

Fisa is in no way a “Centrist” issue.

Here’s Obama’s official response along with the over 800 comments between his staffers and folks on the site.

I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those of you who oppose my decision to support the FISA compromise.
This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That's why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.
But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any President or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility
The Inspectors General report also provides a real mechanism for accountability and should not be discounted. It will allow a close look at past misconduct without hurdles that would exist in federal court because of classification issues. The (PDF)recent investigation uncovering the illegal politicization of Justice Department hiring sets a strong example of the accountability that can come from a tough and thorough IG report.
The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe -- particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer.  Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention -- once I’m sworn in as President -- to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.
Now, I understand why some of you feel differently about the current bill, and I'm happy to take my lumps on this side and elsewhere. For the truth is that your organizing, your activism and your passion is an important reason why this bill is better than previous versions. No tool has been more important in focusing peoples' attention on the abuses of executive power in this Administration than the active and sustained engagement of American citizens. That holds true -- not just on wiretapping, but on a range of issues where Washington has let the American people down.
I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I'm not exempt from that. I'm certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too. I cannot promise to agree with you on every issue. But I do promise to listen to your concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn your ongoing support to change the country. That is why we have built the largest grassroots campaign in the history of presidential politics, and that is the kind of White House that I intend to run as President of the United States -- a White House that takes the Constitution seriously, conducts the peoples' business out in the open, welcomes and listens to dissenting views, and asks you to play your part in shaping our country’s destiny. 
Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok.  But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course. 
So I appreciate the feedback through, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the months and years to come. Together, we have a lot of work to do.

Honestly it this kind of “We may disagree, but here’s why I’m doing it” type of response that I (stupidly) thought McCain might be capable of back in 2000.

No comment on Obama, but is this healthy?

(puts on Fox News hat)

So, is the “I always planned to take 16 months to get out of Iraq and that might change after I visit Iraq later this summer” statement bothering anyone?

(takes off Fox News hat)

(I’m not personally bothered, but I’d imagine some of you are.)

It doesn’t bother me. Here are some of his exact words from today’s press conference:

He just sounds like he’s talking to the audience like they are adults, rather than looking to score the best sound bite of the day.

On the ground, on the ground, on the ground… is this a campaign trail speech or a Bowie cover?

I agree with Greenwald on the perniciousness of defining the ‘centre’ as 0.45% further towards the left than Cheney/Bush. Since when was the rule of law a radical leftist position?

What reallly matters is that Obama makes some changes to help young americans make it to their golden years. I know the fashion in modern love is to have an ashes to ashes perspective, but Obama and his presidency can really be heroes to the rebel rebel crowd with their reliance on guns and religion. In other words, rather than being diamond dogs and focused on fame, today’s Ziggy Stardust and Jean Genie can head on down to Suffragette City, choose a blue jean lifestyle, and decide to say “let’s dance.” Some may call this philosophy a space oddity, but I simply respond “John, I’m only dancing.”

(Sometimes college does pay off kids!)

How come no one ever looks at the facts in the air or talks to the commanders at sea, anyway?

Brock: Doc, you okay?

Dr. Venture: I swallowed a gold filling during the crash, so we have to hook up the metal detector to the toilet again. What did we miss?

Hank: The guy from Labyrinth turned into a bird!

Henchman 21: Okay, so the Sovereign recorded Station to Station?

Henchman 24: And Changesone. I love that album.

Henchman 21: Could you be a bigger poser?! Changes is a best of!

The only thing that’s frustrating me about the campaign is how McCain has (so far) been able to dictate the content of the national discussion, instead of discussing the shitty state of the economy and McCain’s travesty of a health care initiative.

Why the hell are we talking about whether Obama can really remove troops in 16 months or whether it’ll take 24 months? How did this become the terms of the debate?

The media is a bunch of morons, that’s why.

Why would Obama be flip-flopping his policies more toward the center?

I thought the country thought like you guys do :(