Obama the Postmodern Candidate

Barack Obama has earned his place in history as the first postmodern candidate for president. He belongs to the deconstructionist school; his "texts" have no fixed meaning. He is able to take varying positions and claim consistency.

Senator Obama gave a lengthy interview earlier this week to ABC News in which he expounded on his ever-evolving position on the troop surge in Iraq. 

Before discussing, a little context is in order.  Here's a rundown of previous statements on the topic:

January 10, 2007, on MSNBC:

"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Also from January 2007:

"We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a  civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality, uh, we can send 15,000 more troops; 20,000 more troops; 30,000 more troops. Uh, I don't know any, uh, expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to, uh,             privately that believes that that is gonna make a substantial difference on        the situation on the ground."

May 25th, 2007:

"And what I know is that what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric, they deserve a new plan. Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working, I do not."

July, 2007:

"Here's what we know. The surge has not worked. And they said today,  'Well, even in September, we're going to need more time.' So we're going to kick this can all the way down to the next president, under the president's plan."

September 13th, 2007:

"After putting an additional 30,000 troops in, far longer & more troops than     the president had initially said, we have gone from a horrendous situation   of violence in Iraq to the same intolerable levels of violence that we had back in June of 2006. So, essentially, after all this we're back where we were 15 months ago. And what has not happened is any movement with respect to the sort of political accommodations among the various factions, the Shia, the Sunni, and Kurds that were the rationale for surge and that ultimately is going to be what stabilizes Iraq. So, I think it is fair to say that the president has simply tried to gain another six months to continue on the same course that he's been on for several years now. It is a course that will not succeed."

November 11, 2007:

"Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled them and initiated a surge and at  that stage I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there."

In early 2008, as statistical proof of The Surge's incredible success became indisputable, Mr. Obama abruptly reverses his assessment of the situation and his recollection of his own recent history:

January 5, 2008:

"I had no doubt, and I said when I opposed the surge, that given how    wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there,    then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence."

And now we've evolved to this:

July 21, 2008:

When asked if - knowing what he knows now - would Mr. Obama support the Troop Surge.  He replied, "No."  When asked to articulate he added

"These kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult," he said. "Hindsight is 20/20. But I think that what I am absolutely convinced of is, at that time, we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush   administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with, and one that I continue to disagree with -- is to look narrowly at Iraq and not focus on  these broader issues."

A few things are clear from this review of the candidate's own words:

Mr. Obama is on a nodding acquaintance with the concept of "truth."

It appears that everything he says and does must be viewed "in context" and that the framing of that context is the sole province of Barack Obama. Take the whole Reverend Wright issue for example.  Over the course of six weeks we were told that he had no idea these things were said; he had a vague idea they were said; he knew they were said but could no more disown them than his occasionally racist grandmother; he had been personally disrespected and was through with Jeremiah Wright.  Quite a bit of "context" to get from his initial statements to the end point a mere month and a half later...

Mr. Obama is entirely unwilling to admit he's ever wrong about anything

Once again, the eerily prophetic, (no pun intended), experience with Reverend Wright and Trinity United is instructive.  Absent from this extended public discussion was any admission that he had exercised poor judgment, reached faulty conclusions, learned a lesson etc.  As we discovered when he disowned the very man that "he could no more disown" -- Barack lives in the eternal now, and at this point in time, this is what he thinks.  End of story, end of discussion.

Mr. Obama will shamelessly say just about anything required to get elected. 

Documented above

The Media are at best useless, at worse, complicit. 

This sort of post-modern, contextual concept of truth, although horrifying to many of us, is actually quite in vogue on the Left.  A deconstructed, evolving narrative - far from being seen as evasive or dissembling - is seen as a "higher truth" that the flyover folks in Kansas and Nebraska obviously don't get.  The fact that Mr. Obama blatantly contradicts his own factual assertions is immaterial to the fact that he "gets it".

This late in the game, no one really knows where he stands on anything. 

The beauty of shamelessly appropriating all sides of an issue is that you're never really wrong.  The problem is -- should Mr. Obama get elected - he will have to pick one side.  You can't simultaneously support and abandon Iraq.  You can't prohibit the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons but refuse to consider using force to stop them.  You can't have it both ways -- ask George Bush, I'm sure he could give you an earful on the topic of hard choices. 

If Barack Obama becomes the 44th President there will quickly come a day when he realizes that, although his buddies in media and academia really love this postmodern journey he's on, the rest of world looks to the President of the United States for fixed principles, clear convictions, and a well-grounded  view of reality.  Given what we've seen to date it's far from clear that Mr. Obama is intellectually or psychologically disposed to meet the challenge.

David Bueche blogs regularly at Compassionate Warmonger