Friday, July 11, 2008


So the Time's Political Caucus experiment continues, though it is looking more like a comment thread for the Stranger Blog than a meeting of the minds. Speed matters for placement (I'm on the second page with my response), and the questions seem to be pretty media-standard issue. So I've decided to start crossposting my responses here.

Here's the question: "Political pundits, bloggers and newspaper columnists cite Barack Obama's vote on Wednesday in favor of expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as an example of how he is moving to the political center to capture votes. Is this a good strategy for Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee for president, to follow? Will it make you more likely or less likely to vote for him in November?"

Hmmm, McCain's camp is telling us that the recession is all in our minds while the DOW kisses 11,000, and the burning political question of the day is whether Obama is insufficiently liberal? Needless to say the question brought out the stock answers - Betrayed Liberal (Shocked, simply shocked), Pragmatic Liberal (well, yaknow, these things happen), and Vindicated Conservative (See! We TOLD you he was a no good nogoodnik!).

Here was mine:

I don't think the candidate has moved nearly as much as the camera. If you go into Obama's legislative history, you find a number of "centrist" ideas, such as his co-sponsorship on McCain's Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act in 2005.

Obama benefited from a media portrayal as a more progressive candidate than he was early in campaign, and now benefits from a similar portrayal as him being more centrist. He has always worked closer to the center than he has been portrayed.

I do not agree with Mr. Obama on a number of subjects, including this recent FISA bill, but I would rather vote for a candidate that I agree with 70% of the time that is paying attention, than one that I agree with 30% of the time and doesn't seem willing to talk about it.

I have relative doubts about how this is going - one more collection of sound and fury, heavy on the smoke, light on the light. I'll stick it out until the end of the month, and see where it ends up, but things don't look particularly promising so far.

More later,