It explains a lot about Obama. His inability to definitively break with Wright, for example. His voting record in the Illinois Senate, where he had a marked tendency to vote “present” to avoid taking tough stands on controversial bills. His hedginess on the issue of welfare reform. His back-and-forth stance on the Iraq War (and if you think that is at least one area where Obama has been consistent, read this and think again).
Now Seth Colter Walls points out in an article in Newsweek that, because of challenges being mounted to affirmative action in several states, Obama is about to be confronted with another major issue on which he has studiously avoided taking a stand. As with some (but most definitely not all) of the topics on which Obama has been fence-straddling or silent, this is a racially-loaded minefield for him. Take a stand against, and he might lose some of his black support. Take a stand for, and he might lose some of his appeal to moderates, and reveal himself as the unadulterated liberal that he is.
Obama’s fuzziness may certainly be at least partly strategic—an attempt to be, if not all things to all people, then at least as many things to as many people as possible. This trait is hardly unusual in politicians. But Obama takes it to an extreme degree, and over time it is starting to hurt him. It is such a consistent characterisitc of his, across so many areas, that one can conclude (as I have) that it is part of his personality on a very deep level, and not just a political ploy.
Obama’s inability to get specific in the primary campaign in Pennsylvania is another symptom of both his lack of courage and his desire to keep it vague. In a state where he’s trailing badly:
Pollster and political science professor G. Terry Madonna of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster notes that after about three weeks of campaigning in the Keystone state, the Obama campaign has not yet figured out how to translate the candidate’s lyrical rhetoric into a gut-level connection with these kitchen-table-issue-driven demographics.
“What has surprised me to date—and this is partially why Hillary’s campaign worked well in Ohio—is that Obama has not been putting his focus on specific policy proposals to help these kinds of folks,” Madonna said. “You’re campaigning in small town in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, blue collar communities, where families are having tough times getting kids to college or paying for health care. Hillary goes in and gives her five proposals, like she did with mortgages—and even if you don’t agree, you recognize that she has a statement, and she’s saying, ‘I’ll fight for you.’ For Obama, none of that has happened here, and that has shocked me.”
Well, Mr. Madonna may be surprised and shocked. But I’m neither. In fact, I would be surprised and shocked were it otherwise.
Madonna says of Hillary’s Pennsylvania campaign (italics mine), “even if you don’t agree, you recognize that she has a statement.” That is exactly what Obama so often finds it so difficult to do—make a statement that might alienate some voting bloc he needs.
Way back in June, Ed Lasky of American Thinker blasted Obama in a piece I only found today when, after my own Obama-epiphany, I googled “Obama moral courage.” The Lasky piece is entitled, fittingly enough, “Obama and Moral Courage,” and it blasts Obama for not taking an earlier and clearer stand against his church and its pastor, specifically on their anti-Israel rhetoric and official resolutions.
What did Obama finally say, when pressed? That he “strongly disagrees with the portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict presented by individual members of the church.”
If this is not “Clintonian” of Obama in the classic (that is, Bill) sense, I don’t know what is. And Lasky goes on to point out that Obama’s “statement” was followed by weekend speeches to his church, but he never used them to address the issue in any way. He was utterly silent on the matter in that forum. Why am I not surprised?