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Obama running for Bush's 3rd term

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    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121495450490321133.html Bush s Third Term July 2, 2008; Page A12 We re beginning to understand why Barack Obama keeps
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2008
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      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121495450490321133.html

      Bush's Third Term
      July 2, 2008; Page A12

      We're beginning to understand why Barack Obama keeps protesting so
      vigorously against the prospect of "George Bush's third term." Maybe
      he's worried that someone will notice that he's the candidate who's
      running for it.

      Most Presidential candidates adapt their message after they win their
      party nomination, but Mr. Obama isn't merely "running to the center."
      He's fleeing from many of his primary positions so markedly and so
      rapidly that he's embracing a sizable chunk of President Bush's policy.
      Who would have thought that a Democrat would rehabilitate the
      much-maligned Bush agenda?

      Take the surveillance of foreign terrorists. Last October, while running
      with the Democratic pack, the Illinois Senator vowed to "support a
      filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for
      telecommunications companies" that assisted in such eavesdropping after
      9/11. As recently as February, still running as the liberal favorite
      against Hillary Clinton, he was one of 29 Democrats who voted against
      allowing a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reform of
      surveillance rules even to come to the floor.

      Two weeks ago, however, the House passed a bill that is essentially the
      same as that Senate version, and Mr. Obama now says he supports it.
      Apparently legal immunity for the telcos is vital for U.S. national
      security, just as Mr. Bush has claimed. Apparently, too, the legislation
      isn't an attempt by Dick Cheney to gut the Constitution. Perhaps it is
      dawning on Mr. Obama that, if he does become President, he'll be
      responsible for preventing any new terrorist attack. So now he's happy
      to throw the New York Times under the bus.

      Next up for Mr. Obama's political blessing will be Mr. Bush's Iraq
      policy. Only weeks ago, the Democrat was calling for an immediate and
      rapid U.S. withdrawal. When General David Petraeus first testified about
      the surge in September 2007, Mr. Obama was dismissive and skeptical. But
      with the surge having worked wonders in Iraq, this week Mr. Obama went
      out of his way to defend General Petraeus against MoveOn.org's attacks
      in 2007 that he was "General Betray Us." Perhaps he had a late epiphany.

      Look for Mr. Obama to use his forthcoming visit to Iraq as an excuse to
      drop those withdrawal plans faster than he can say Jeremiah Wright "was
      not the person that I met 20 years ago." The Senator will learn – as
      John McCain has been saying – that withdrawal would squander the gains
      from the surge, set back Iraqi political progress, and weaken America's
      strategic position against Iran. Our guess is that he'll spin this
      switcheroo as some kind of conditional commitment, saying he'll stay in
      Iraq as long as Iraqis are making progress on political reconciliation,
      and so on. As things improve in Iraq, this would be Mr. Bush's policy too.

      Mr. Obama has also made ostentatious leaps toward Mr. Bush on domestic
      issues. While he once bid for labor support by pledging a unilateral
      rewrite of Nafta, the Democrat now says he favors free trade as long as
      it works for "everybody." His economic aide, Austan Goolsbee, has been
      liberated from the five-month purdah he endured for telling Canadians
      that Mr. Obama's protectionism was merely campaign rhetoric. Now that
      Mr. Obama is in a general election, he can't scare the business
      community too much.

      Back in the day, the first-term Senator also voted against the Supreme
      Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. But last week he
      agreed with their majority opinion in the Heller gun rights case, and
      with their dissent against the liberal majority's ruling to ban the
      death penalty for rape. Mr. Obama seems to appreciate that getting
      pegged as a cultural lefty is deadly for national Democrats – at least
      until November.

      This week the great Democratic hope even endorsed spending more money on
      faith-based charities. Apparently, this core plank of Mr. Bush's
      "compassionate conservatism" is not the assault on church-state
      separation that the ACLU and liberals have long claimed. And yesterday,
      Mr. Obama's campaign unveiled an ad asserting his support for welfare
      reform that "slashed the rolls by 80 percent." Never mind that Mr. Obama
      has declared multiple times that he opposed the landmark 1996 welfare
      reform.

      * * *

      All of which prompts a couple of thoughts. The first is that Mr. Obama
      doesn't seem to think American political sentiment has moved as far left
      as most of the media claim. Another is that the next President, whether
      Democrat or Republican, is going to embrace much of Mr. Bush's foreign
      and antiterror policy whether he admits it or not. Think Eisenhower
      endorsing Truman's Cold War architecture.

      Most important is the matter of Mr. Obama's political character – and
      how honest he is being about what he truly believes. His voting record
      in the Senate and in Illinois, as well as his primary positions, would
      make him the most liberal Presidential candidate since George McGovern
      in 1972. But he clearly doesn't want voters to believe that in November.
      He's still the Obama Americans don't know.
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