Monday, August 16, 2010

"A stubborn man without conviction"

James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web points out that President Obama’s nearly-instantaneous pivot on the issue of the “Ground Zero mosque” (the Park51 Islamic cultural center) shows that “Barack Obama is a stubborn man without conviction.” While this latest episode is a very stark and visible example, the insight it offers into Obama’s character and political modus operandi is hardly new.

Obama’s long had the habit of saying something to pander to an audience and then “explaining” to a different audience how he didn’t really say what he said. The only thing that’s changed is that the mainstream media is unwilling to cover for Obama when he contradicts himself.

One of the best examples is his 2008 speech to AIPAC.

“Let me be clear. Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper — but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

It took very little time for that last sentence to be “clarified” by the candidate’s campaign.

“…Barack Obama did not rule out Palestinian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem when he called for Israel’s capital to remain “undivided,” his campaign told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.

“‘Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,’ Obama declared Wednesday, to rousing applause from the 7,000-plus attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.

“But a campaign adviser clarified Thursday that Obama believes ‘Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties” as part of “an agreement that they both can live with.’

“‘Two principles should apply to any outcome,’ which the adviser gave as: ‘Jerusalem remains Israel’s capital and it’s not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967’.”

It is pretty clear that Obama operates on the principle that voters’ memories are short and that he will therefore not be held to account for any position he takes or promise he makes that later gets “clarified” into its diametric opposite.

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