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Daily Blog Buzz: Obama's "Refined" Positions

12:32 PM, Jul 7, 2008 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
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Over the weekend, Barack Obama got quite a bit of flak for his most recent flip-flops.

First flip: Iraq. Last week he said, "When I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I am sure I'll have more information and will continue to refine my policies." He then clarified his statement and said, "My 16-month timeline, if you examine everything that I've said, was always premised on making sure that our troops were safe. I said that based on the information that we had received from our commanders that one to two brigades a month could be pulled out safely, from a logistical perspective. My guiding approach continues to be that we've got to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable."

Power Line's John Hinderaker explains this latest flip-flop: "That represents an inversion of Obama's position in the primaries, which was that Iraq was not stable and could not be made stable--it was in the midst of a civil war, remember? An hour or so ago, after he started taking heat today for backing off the trademark stand that won him the Democratic nomination, Obama denied that he had changed anything at all."

Will this flip-flop hurt him? At Real Clear Politics, Tom Bevan says, "This may not be a flip-flop by the technical definition of the term, but it certainly is a substantial walk back on perhaps the defining issue of the election that will draw fire from both the right and the left." Hot Air's Allahpundit thinks that Obama is moving in the right direction: "I'm not going to rub his face in it. The important thing is to make the right decision and he's nearer to that now than he's ever been."

Second flip: abortion. Obama told Relevant magazine, "I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother." An Obama spokeswoman then "clarified" this statement: "He absolutely believes and has always said there has to be a health exception for serious physical and mental illness."

At Contentions, Jennifer Rubin says, "Obama's latest effort to put a moderate face on his record belies an entire career of drastic stances on abortion rights." At The Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru adds, "Obama and Linda Douglass are obviously revising what he said, not clarifying it. Maybe his words just came out wrong in The Relevant interview--that happens even to famously eloquent people--but the latest remarks contradict the earlier ones." Also at The Corner, Yuval Levin explains, "To the growing list of Barack Obama's tactical moves to the right on terrorist wiretapping, gun control, trade, Iraq and the like we can now add abortion as well. In this case as in the others, he has moved in what would be the right direction on the substance, but in a way that strongly suggests he is trying to play voters for fools."