TalkLeft revisits the question of whether Barack Obama did or didn't fill out a questionairre whose answers he subsequently said he didn't fully support. The questionairre, according to Obama, was filled out by an aide. The problem was that copies of the original showed up -- with his handwriting. And so TalkLeft reopens the question of whether Obama is a "straight shooter".
Through an aide, Obama, who won the group’s endorsement as well as the statehouse seat, did not dispute that the handwriting was his. But he contended it doesn’t prove he completed, approved — or even read — the latter questionnaire.
“Sen. Obama didn’t fill out these state Senate questionnaires — a staffer did — and there are several answers that didn't reflect his views then or now,” Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama’s campaign, said in an e-mailed statement. “He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire at the meeting, but that doesn't change the fact that some answers didn't reflect his views. His 11 years in public office do.”
TalkLeft says a review of his record shows a chameleon-like propensity to change. Obama she says, was against the death penalty but created more death penalty eligible crimes afterward; was against gun control but now portrays himself as a supporter of the Second Amendment; was against mandatory minimum sentences but has now had second thoughts; was for the legalization of pot, but now he's not.
But so what?
What's the problem with inconsistency? Aren't politicians supposed to evolve as they learn more? Or should a politician spring full-formed, like some Greek Goddess, with no need for further modification? Talkleft makes the argument for some kind of truth in labeling. After all, if you're picking a candidate off the political supermarket shelf, you want to make sure the label reflects the contents.
Who can know for sure [where Obama stands]? Who wants to take a chance? Hillary's positions aren't much different than Obama's but at least we know where she stands.
That is only partly true. We know where Hillary will stand -- until the next backroom deal is clinched. And John McCain isn't immune from the accusation he's shifted his positions either. So I don't think it is necessarily wrong for a politician to shift positions. The politician elected is sometimes a very different animal from the politician as candidate.
But voters may have a problem with politicians who change their stand out of pure expediency. As when, as it was so often rumored, Bill Clinton used to order up a poll to determine what he should believe on an issue. Or when a politician goes into a closed room with a lobbyist with one set principles and emerges with another. Or still yet when a politician tells several hundred voters a story he has never told anyone else before. Voters don't demand eternal beliefs from a politician but they do hope for a modicum of intellectual honesty.
A politician might change his mind on the issues after being elected. But we expect him/her to do it for a reason. And not simply because.
My guess is that unease which TalkLeft feels about Obama isn't due to the mutability of his positions per se, so much as his apparent willingness to change his tune on the fly like a shapeshifter. That is not a judgment of his positions so much as an indication of his character. Which is exactly what to start with? And so the mystery surrounding Barack Obama's true self becomes deeper. Who is he really besides the Face?
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