Fast Eddie Obama

"Fast Eddie Obama"

David Brooks proposes to resolve the question that we were discussing the other day: is Obama a Chicago Way politician, or a New Class liberal? Brooks says, both -- but the Chicago Way will win out in any conflict.

But as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there’s Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes.


Dr. Barack could have been a workhorse senator. But primary candidates don’t do tough votes, so Fast Eddie Obama threw the workhorse duties under the truck.

Dr. Barack could have changed the way presidential campaigning works. John McCain offered to have a series of extended town-hall meetings around the country. But favored candidates don’t go in for unscripted free-range conversations. Fast Eddie Obama threw the new-politics mantra under the truck.

And then on Thursday, Fast Eddie Obama had his finest hour. Barack Obama has worked on political reform more than any other issue. He aspires to be to political reform what Bono is to fighting disease in Africa. He’s spent much of his career talking about how much he believes in public financing. In January 2007, he told Larry King that the public-financing system works. In February 2007, he challenged Republicans to limit their spending and vowed to do so along with them if he were the nominee. In February 2008, he said he would aggressively pursue spending limits. He answered a Midwest Democracy Network questionnaire by reminding everyone that he has been a longtime advocate of the public-financing system.

But Thursday, at the first breath of political inconvenience, Fast Eddie Obama threw public financing under the truck. In so doing, he probably dealt a death-blow to the cause of campaign-finance reform. And the only thing that changed between Thursday and when he lauded the system is that Obama’s got more money now.

And Fast Eddie Obama didn’t just sell out the primary cause of his life. He did it with style. He did it with a video so risibly insincere that somewhere down in the shadow world, Lee Atwater is gaping and applauding.
It's interesting, in terms of how disconnected this election is from reality. If you want campaign finance reform, McCain is your candidate: he's really done things for you, hard things. Yet Obama has been running as the campaign finance reform candidate -- though he has no actual commitment to the issue, has done nothing but talk about it in terms of advancing it, and undercut the project at the first sign of advantage.

Similarly, if you are concerned about "change" in Iraq, McCain is your candidate. He stood up to the Bush administration and forced them to undertake the Surge, which Rumsfeld and others did not wish to do. The current successes are in many ways his progeny. He can honestly claim to be the candidate of a very positive change: the chance to wind up the Iraq war on a positive note, with relative stability and upcoming provincial elections, and a status of forces agreement of some sort rather than a withdrawal and collapse of the state of Iraq.

Obama has done nothing but talk, and hasn't updated his concepts on Iraq since 2006. He only updated them then because he pivoted to a self-described 'just like Bush' position in 2005, when Tony Rezko had some business interests over there. Once again, nothing but talk versus a guy who has really effected serious change: but Obama has talked the public into giving him the credit.

On a similar topic, Obama has just sold out the progressives on FISA. I guess he didn't mean any of that talk, either.

Meanwhile, the man who has proposed an explicity race-based "Southern Strategy" to put the South in play is charging Republicans with telling voters that he's black.

Fast Eddie, indeed.

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