The Obama Change We Really Can Believe In

Barack Obama's call to action is "Change we can believe in." I would love to believe it, but until now I haven't even been able to understand it. What is going to change?  With his latest about face on direct talks with Iran's Ahmadinejad, Obama has finally clarified what he is going to change: his opinion. From terror to funding for tots, where there's controversy and two sides to be wooed, there is the Obama about-face.

On unconditional presidential meeting with terror-sponsoring states: Yes to No

This week, Obama's key foreign policy advisor, Susan E. Rice, told the New York Times that Obama never claimed he would be willing to meet "unconditionally" with Iran's president  Mr. Ahmadinejad. Dr. Rice said that Obama would not meet at the presidential level with this Iran or any other so-called "rogue" state without the preparation to use such a meeting as the candidate and his sloganleverage for change. In fact, it was only right-wing machinations or imagination that "distorted and reframed" Obama's views.

That was certainly a change from numerous statements candidate Obama made on the same topic.  Did John McCain enter the following posting on Obama's campaign website? "Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions."  

Nothing could have been clearer than Obama's response to Anderson Cooper during the YouTube debate. (transcript)

COOPER: In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries? Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I would..

On talking with the terrorist group Hamas: No to Yes (but it wasn't really me)

Obama has repeatedly stated that he would not engage in talks with Hamas until the group stopped its terror campaign against Israel, yet on May 9, 2008 the Times of London reported that Obama adviser Robert Malley, a noted critic of Israel, had been conducting talks with Hamas. Of course, Malley's position of advisor was downgraded to "informal." How did Obama fire Malley if the man never worked for him?

On driver's licenses for illegal immigrants: Yes to huh?

As an Illinois state senator, Obama voted to require illegal immigrants get a license. His position seemed cleared, yet when Wolf Blitzer questioned Obama about his stance, the response was anything but clear. From  the November 15, 2007 debate:

BLITZER: "I take it, Senator Obama, you support giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Is that right?" OBAMA:"...I have to make sure that people understand the problem we have here is not driver's licenses.  Undocumented workers don't come here to drive. (Laughter) they don't go - they're not coming here to go to the In-N-Out Burger. That's not the reason they're here.  They're here to work. And so instead of being distracted by what has now become a wedge issue, let's focus on actually solving the problem that... this administration, the Bush administration, has done nothing about."

BLITZER: "Do you support or oppose driver's licenses for illegal immigrants?" 

OBAMA: "I am not proposing that that's what we do. What I'm saying is that we can't - No, no, no, no, look, I have already said I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that driver's licenses at the state level can make that happen.

Whatever the response really meant, it does not sound like a man who sticks to his convictions.

Funding child welfare: No to Yes

Sometimes the change of opinion is framed as an accidentally incorrect vote; for example, there was the time Barack Obama voted to cut millions of dollars from a Chicago-area child welfare office. When angry Democrats rebuked him, Obama claimed that he was not aware that he had voted no.  It may have been a mistake or an easy way to placate both sides of an issue.

Freer rules for riverboat casinos: Yes to No

When Chicago churches were opposing looser rules for riverboat casinos in 1997, Obama cast his vote with the gambling industry. After the measure passed, Obama stated that he wanted to be recorded as voting "no."  Voting both sides of an issue could perhaps garner him support from both churches and casinos.

Reverend Wright: Didn't say it, didn't hear it, isn't accurate, is justifiable, is unacceptable

The number of opinion reversals on Reverend Wright are mind-spinning: his church is not especially controversial, he never heard the hate-speech, the snippets of the sermons are "charicatures peddled by some commentators," the pastor's remarks were akin to those made by Obama's white grandmother, rejecting the anti-American and anti-Semitic minister would be rejecting all of black America, and on and on. Obama thus courts the radical left by participating comfortably in its extremism and mollifies middle American with a range of excuses.

Iraq War: It's dumb, I might be wrong, We can win, Failure would be a disaster, Failure's inevitable, I don't know, Reduce troops, not withdraw, Withdraw troops, Maybe?

Although Obama boasts that his is the Democratic candidate that has not changed its tune on the Iraq War, he has been quoted singing different lyrics. The Boston Globe online tracks some of Obama's variations.

October 2, 2002, Chicago Wearing a war is not an option pin, Obama called to the crowd," The Iraq war is a dumb war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle, but on politics."

When America was obtaining clear victories on the ground in Iraq, Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope,  "I began to suspect that I might have been wrong [about the war]"

On March 28, 2003, on CNN, Obama claimed, "I absolutely want to make sure that the troops have sufficient support to be able to win."

At the Democratic National Convention that July, 2004, his only mention of the war was, "There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it."

July, 2004 "The failure of the Iraqi state would be a disaster...It would dishonor the 900-plus men and women who have already died. . . . It would be a betrayal of the promise that we made to the Iraqi people, and it would be hugely destabilizing from a national security perspective.".

July 26, 2004 "I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don't know." The New York Times

2004 "I'm always careful to say that I was not in the Senate, so perhaps the reason I thought [the war] was such a bad idea was that I didn't have the benefit of U.S. intelligence," The New Yorker

November 2005 speech, he called for a gradual withdrawal of forces. "Notice that I say 'reduce,' and not 'fully withdraw [troops]'"

December, 2005), "It is arguable that the best politics going into '06 would be a clear, succinct message: 'Let's bring our troops home...But whether that's the best policy right now, I don't feel comfortable saying it is." Chicago Tribune

July 2007 "Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there."

 March, 2008 Obama's website states, "Obama will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months."

March 7, 2008 Obama's then key foreign policy advisor Samantha Power, spoke on the commitment to get combat forces out in 16 months.  "You can't make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009."

Although I still don't know how a President Obama would change the nation or if these "changes" would benefit or harm the country, I now know that there is a change I can believe in. Just present Barack Obama with a controversial issue which requires a firm stand on principle, and we are guaranteed change.
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