Is Obama truly post-partisan or merely triangulating? CHARITY VIDEOS - DONATION VIDEO CLIPS - ORGANIZATIONS

Is Obama actually moving to the center?---It is a telling sign of where American politics is now headed that last week several leading conservative voices proclaimed Barack Obama had seen the conservative light and many leading liberal voices accused him of being a sellout.At one extreme, The Wall Street Journal bizarrely claimed that Obama was now running for George W Bush\'s third term. On the other, liberal blogger Arianna Huffington accused him of making a \"very serious mistake\" by agreeing to a new wire-tapping law. And leading left-wing blogger Markos Moulitsasaccused Obama of \"unnecessary stabbing\" of political allies. Neither side, I\'d say, is right -- the truth is more muddy. However, if you want proof that Obama is one of the shrewdest -- as well as one of the most inspiring -- politicians in recent history, last week is hard to refute.\n\nObama beganit with a full-throated defence of patriotism, in front of two large American flags, invoking his white family and its history of military service. He went out of his way to praise General David Petraeus and to condemn the attack by the antiwar group Moveon.org on him as \"General Betray Us\".\n\nObamawent on the next day to brazenly coopt one of Bush\'s signature policy innovations, funnelling public money to the social services of religious organisations. He ended the week by dropping his previous long-held position on a fixed timetable for withdrawal from Iraq in favour of a \"re-fined\" strategyof withdrawal as soon as prudently possible after consultations with generals on the ground.\n\nAll of this caps a flurry of small adjustments in the postprimary phase. We now know that Obama can live with mass wire-tapping to gain antiterror intelligence, as long as it is placed under congressionallaw and oversight in ways Bush tried to avoid. He was fine about the Supreme Court\'s defence of gun rights in the recently decided Dick Heller case (in which a Washington DC security guard argued for his right to carry a gun to protect himself); he supported the death penalty in some extreme cases such as child rape; he ran an ad touting his own role (much exaggerated) on welfare reform; and he also plans to avoid any tax hikes on the middle class while adding some strong fiscal medicine to the well-to-do.\n\nFor good measure he was the only candidate last week with ads being broadcast on Christian radio. Yes, it was an independent group placing the ad, but its evocation of Obama\'s conversion to Christianity was a bold foray into deep Republican territory.\n\nWhen you examine all of these adjustments, they are not quite the bald reversals the extreme partisans on both sides are claiming. Obama\'s position on Iraq, for example, has always been framed around the formula that the US should be \"as careful getting out as we were careless getting in\".His pledge of a fixed timetable for withdrawal was always going to be subject to empirical shifts on the ground in Iraq. Being careful does not mean sticking to fixed withdrawal plans regardless of reality.\n\nObama, after all, is not running for Bush\'s third term, but he is running after Bush\'s twoterms. In the brutally real world, he cannot undo the Iraq invasion. He cannot ignore the pressing need for good intelligence gained through wire-tapping after 9/11. He cannot ignore Tehran\'s malevolence, while being more open to diplomacy than McCain is.\nThe picture of Obama as a big-time leftistwas always wrong -- and more a function of the Clintons\' need to marginalise him than of any accurate portrayal of his record. His 2002 speech against the Iraq war aired a prescient worry about unintended consequences, not a deep reluctance to use military force in any circumstances.\n\nObama has longbeen a committed Christian, even of a more liberal, mainstream variety than the Republican leadership. His embrace of faith-based programmes is therefore utterly unsurprising to anyone who knows him. (The one key difference between Bush\'s faith-based programmes and Obama\'s is that Obama\'s forbids religious charities from using public money to discriminate in hiring on the basis of faith.)\n\nObama also explicitly favoured the death penalty for child rapists and murderers in his book The Audacity of Hope. These are not, for the most part, U-turns or manifestations of cynicism. They are pragmaticadjustments made by a Democrat who wants to win.\n\nThis election will be about who can deliver the most change in a way that least disturbs an anxious electorate. McCain reassures in as much as he is obviously not a simple heir to Bush and Dick Cheney. But his refusal to countenance any tax increases or entitlement cuts in a debt-laden America, and his visceral hostility to diplomacy and nuance in the politics of the Middle East, worry many who have been rattled by the reckless rigidity of the Bush years.\nhttp://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/andrew_sullivan/article4275040.ece

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