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The "Evolving" Barack Obama

1:04 PM, Mar 8, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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When a liberal politician changes his mind, particularly when he journeys to an even more liberal position, you can count on his fellow travelers in the media to refer to such a fortuitous happenstance as an "evolution." A case study of this phenomenon is to be found on the front page of today's Boston Globe.

The story promises to look into Barack Obama's changing positions on Iraq, or, as the headline puts it, "Obama stance on Iraq shows evolving view." The Globe reports:

In July of 2004, the day after his speech at the Democratic convention catapulted him into the national spotlight, Barack Obama told a group of reporters in Boston that the United States had an "absolute obligation" to remain in Iraq long enough to make it a success.

"The failure of the Iraqi state would be a disaster," he said at a lunch sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, according to an audiotape of the session. "It would dishonor the 900-plus men and women who have already died. . . . It would be a betrayal of the promise that we made to the Iraqi people, and it would be hugely destabilizing from a national security perspective."

Such sober rhetoric has of course been lacking from the Obama presidential campaign, the candidate instead having opted for a "Surrender on Day One" platform and a "What me worry?" attitude to potential ethnic cleansing and regional instability. What, you may wonder, could possibly account for the differing stances between Obama v. 1.0 and Obama v. 2.0, particularly the jarring modification of what he once deemed an "absolute obligation?" Because he's a Democrat, obviously an "evolution" is to credit! Only odious conservatives flip-flop for political benefit.

The ridiculous headline aside, Globe staffer Farah Stockman actually does a pretty good job documenting the oddly convenient timing of Obama's positions. Stockman, however, avoids one rather obvious and damning observation: In both 2004 and 2008, Barack Obama miraculously found himself in the exact middle of the tedious liberal mainstream on Iraq. In 2004, he was with John Kerry, even echoing Kerry's rhetoric. Now, Obama stands tall alongside the angry anti-war caucus that dominates the Democratic party.

Those who like to think Obama represents a new kind of politician will have particular difficulty dealing with his 2004 views on the war. It's not exactly like Democrats lacked a "surrender now" caucus back then. Howard Dean, however sadly, was a figure of some prominence. And yet Obama wound up in the Democratic mainstream. Go figure.

Now four years later, Obama finds himself in the Democratic mainstream, but saying precisely the opposite thing. Again, go figure.