Thursday, July 10, 2008
Watching liberals grope for first aid as Barack Obama does an about-face on their most cherished issues, one recalls a scene from the 1950 movie "All About Eve."
Theater critic Addison DeWitt takes great offense when a manipulative young actress tries to sneak her schemes past him. He snarls, "Is it possible, even conceivable, that you've confused me with that gang of backward children you play tricks on -- that you have the same contempt for me as you have for them?"
Obama has indeed shown contempt, or at least insensitivity, toward the thinking liberals who handed over their hearts based on his stances concerning -- among other things -- warrantless wiretapping, campaign finance reform and our continued presence in Iraq.
Everyone expects some alterations as the chosen candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Obama hasn't just shortened a sleeve here, taken in a waist there. He's come out with a whole new summer wardrobe of policy positions. Nor had he left a face-saving interval between one view and its opposite.
Obama seems to have lumped the wonks in with the bouncing kids for whom he need only be young and cool. He no doubt calculates that, happy or not, the left has nowhere else to go. But the speed with which he chucked his promises suggests that he also regarded the intellectuals as an easier sell than they thought themselves.
Case in point is New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's lament over the new Obama. He quotes from a speech in Iowa last January that "sent a shiver of hope through the electorate." Obama said this: "The time has come for a president who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face, who will listen to you and learn from you, even when we disagree, who won't just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know."
What choices? Which challenges? For many listeners, the shiver was one of discomfort at seeing Democrats and the media go gaga over so little. Those generic sentiments could have been delivered by Fred Thompson or Dennis Kucinich. As Addison DeWitt might have put it, "What a dull cliche."
For my money, Obama's new policies mostly improve on the old. His lightening up on trade speaks of a more reality-based economic view. And his support for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act recognizes its value to counterterrorism and recent compromises that have made the bill more respectful of civil liberties.
The challenge of Obama is figuring out what he would do if elected. You know what you like and dislike about John McCain. But it's really hard to connect the dots on this guy. His short time in the Senate has produced few fixed positions, and the dots he's left during the campaign are all over the place.
How will the Woodstock blowout planned for the Denver convention sit with weary observers of the rock-star candidacy? Rather than accept the nomination in the convention space, as is usually done, Obama will be anointed before a sea of 75,000 fans in a football stadium -- Invesco Field at Mile High.
The event will intentionally hearken to John F. Kennedy's 1960 acceptance extravaganza at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. And it occurs exactly on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, so it will be made reminiscent of that historic moment, too.
Obama's fine words are sure to send shivers down spines in the cheap seats. But you wonder how liberals confounded by his elastic principles will receive the show. With less enthusiasm than before, one imagines.
COPYRIGHT 2008 THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL CO.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.
See Other Political Commentary.
See Other Commentaries by Froma Harrop.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.