Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Two Obamas (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love FISA)

Obama supporters are livid over his switch in stance about FISA, the bill that would grant immunity to telecoms snooping on citizens. Add this to his endorsement of the lame Bush-era idea of Faith-Based Initiatives and his aplomb at using and abusing Wesley Clark, and you definitely see a guy that's tacking to the middle.

All this has upset the liberal blogging crowd, led most notably by Arianna Huffington, who argues that a move to the middle waters down Obama's brand as a Washington outsider coming in to take on the status quo.

But Obama's "outsider" brand is as much about the wishful thinking of the liberals supporting him (and the portrayals made by the conservatives opposing him) as it is about Obama himself. Yes, "change you can believe in," asks people to take Obama to their hearts as an avatar leading the way against the Powers that Be. But if you wanted a "fighter," your man was Edwards (and if you wanted a really really sneaky, paranoid, never-say-die fighter, your woman was Hillary).

Obama has always been more of a lover than a fighter. And that's the other side of Obama's brand: he's a compromiser who can work with a "team of rivals," a man famously known to get along famously with everyone, foreign enemies included. Well, if a team of rivals doesn't produce a down-the-middle insider compromise, then I don't know what will.

The question is, which Obama is your Obama? The outside-the-beltway progressive, or the unite-the-country pragmatist? Personally, I like Obama the pragmatist: so all this talk about tacking to the middle, playing politics, and reaching out to conservatives just makes me like him more.

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