By Martin Bosworth
I’m having trouble figuring out exactly what Barack Obama is about lately. Like his infamous colleague Larry Craig,the Senator from Illinois seems to be taking a wide stance–but where Craig’s wide stance was bracketed by the infamous airport bathroom stall where he made his political mark (so to speak), Obama’s issue stances are so broad that both supporters and opponents alike are scratching their heads, wondering “What the hell does this guy stand for?”
Consider the following:
While ramping up his efforts to attack Hillary Clinton as a typical DC insider and friend to corporate interests, Obama actually beat Clinton to the punch in expressing his support for the expansion of NAFTA into Peru, guaranteeing that workers’ interests would be shafted in favor of the same corporate interests that would benefit from so-called “free” trade–and assuring them that he can be their friend even better than Hillary.
And Obama seems to have completely swallowed the Kool-Aid that Social Security is a looming crisis that must be immediately “dealt with” in some vague fashion, even though this is an issue that has (at least for me) been thoroughly debunked. How odd is it for a candidate that so strongly espouses change and new solutions as Obama to wholeheartedly embrace a topic that puts him squarely at odds with one of the first big progressive victories of the new millenium?
Not to mention that Obama (along with Biden, Dodd, and Clinton) missed the late-night vote to confirm Michael “Waterboarding’s not really torture” Mukasey as Attorney General.
And yet, Obama has come out in favor of net neutrality more strongly than any other candidate to date. He has joined sponsorship of legislation to prevent media consolidation that would hurt minority media ownership. Despite what people may tell you, he voted against the odious 2005 bankruptcy bill. And he’s been against the Iraq (and Iran) wars from the get-go.
Even as Obama’s rhetoric sharpens against his competitors for the Presidential nomination, he continues to portray himself as the candidate of change, of building bridges, of inclusiveness and bipartisanship. I don’t expect candidates to follow a check-box litmus test of issues I agree with–that’s ludicrous. What I do want is for their stances to make sense, to flow from a coherent framework of an ideal of governance. Obama is trying so hard to be inclusive that his policy positions are all over the place, but he’s not coherently explaining how these differing stances work together.
To paraphrase an old saying, if you try to stand for everything, how can you really stand for anything? Can Obama’s wide stance really hold him aloft, or is he in danger of losing his balance?