Barack Obama and “Change.” The two are inextricably linked. In his remarkably successful run for the Democratic nomination for president, regardless of where he campaigns, the senator constantly, ceaselessly promises change.
And he’s already delivered, but it’s probably not the “change” his supporters wanted.
Both before and during his candidacy, Sen. Obama virtually made himself the walking symbol for campaign finance reform. He touted it on TV, in speeches, in interviews. Then the cash started flowing in from the Internet and Obama discovered that he would be able to raise more than twice, maybe three times as much money without public financing and its spending limits.
The senator changed. He will now be the first nominee of either party since Watergate to reject campaign finance limits.
Sen. Obama also began the race as a strong supporter of gun control, including the private handgun ban in the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court struck down the D.C. law last month, declaring that law-abiding people have a right to own a firearm.
The senator changed, announcing that his position was essentially the same as the High Court’s, and that he, too, believes in an individual’s right to own a handgun.
Late last year, Mr. Obama won accolades from his more liberal followers by opposing legal immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the U.S. government in terrorist surviellance. So strongly were his feelings that he promised to filibuster any bill that included it.
The senator has now changed. His campaign says that he will support legislation that includes immunity for the telecoms.
Since announcing his candidacy, Sen. Obama said that while he supports civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, he still believed that marriage should be legally preserved between one man and one woman.
The senator has changed. Last week he wrote a letter to a gay rights organization, telling them that he opposed a California ballot measure that would overturn a recent court decree allowing gay marriage. Obama called the initiative “discriminatory and divisive.” Was Barack Obama “discriminatory and divisive” until last week?
And now, Iraq. Obama insisted that he wants a phased withdrawal from the war — two divisions a month — until all fighting units are home in 16 months. But between the time he announced his timetable and last week, something inconvenient happened: We started to win the war. Momentum has completely shifted away from Al Qaeda and the remaining insurgents toward U.S. forces and the Iraqi government.
And now the senator has changed. In advance of his upcoming visit there, he told CBS that “I am going to do a thorough assessment when I’m there. When I go to Iraq and I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”
Obama says this isn’t change, but of course it is. The Politico reported that his chief strategist, David Axelrod, said that Obama was not “wedded” to a specific timeline for withdrawal. Obama is now backpeddling on his backpeddling, and suggests that John McCain’s campaign is responsible for the controversy.
Speaking of McCain, during the Republican primaries, he was sharply critical of one of his opponents, Mitt Romney, for constantly changing his positions on the issues. “No doubt about it,” McCain said to Romney in one debate, “you are definitely the candidate of ‘change.’” The criticism stuck, and it ended Romney’s chance of defeating McCain.
Barack Obama has now changed his position on at least as many issues as Romney. But it’s even worse. Romney’s campaign positions were compared to those he had taken up to 14 years ago. Obama’s flip-flops have all taken place in less than a year… and it’s only July.
John Carlson is co-host of “The Commentators” on KVI talk radio, broadcasting from 3 to 6 p.m. weekday afternoons.