Obama The Sellout?

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Fred Hiatt has a really cloying column about Barack Obama in today's Washington Post, which I'm sure others will dissect at some length. For the moment, let me just highlight these two paragraphs:

The question is particularly acute for Obama, because of his line of attack on Clinton and because he built his candidacy on two foundations: that he can heal the nation's partisan divisions and that he will lead "not by polls, but by principle; not by calculation, but by conviction," as he said in Iowa this month. Without those distinctions, he's just a former state legislator from Illinois with a half-term, and few accomplishments, in the U.S. Senate

But when the first selling point left him stuck in second in national polls, he shifted, apparently without much difficulty, to attacking Clinton from the left. And at some point it's no longer enough to describe yourself as courageous. Obama followed his not-calculation-but-conviction statement, in a speech generally credited as one of his strongest of the fall, by pledging to stand up to corporate lobbyists, end the war in Iraq and take tax breaks away from companies that send jobs overseas--not exactly bitter medicine for his Democratic audience.

Let me get this straight: Obama is a sellout because he wants to stand up to lobbyists, end the war, and take tax breaks away from companies that move jobs offshore? I'm pretty sure the first two positions preceded any trouble he may have had in the polls. (I suspect the third one did, too.) But, even if they didn't, those sound like pretty good issues to have a change of heart on. Would that more politicians would pander like that.

--Noam Scheiber

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