For my faithful blog readers who, perhaps, were put out by my sage entry July 2 "Prediction: Obama’s mother of all flip-flops — Iraq" I draw your attention to this Charles Krauthammer column on the same theme. I thought I was the only to see this coming, but Krauthammer was ahead of me and he says it all far better than I. Attention lefties: This flip-flop is coming and when it does voters in the middle of American politics will ask themselves this question: Since there’s now not much difference between Sen. Barack Obama’s position on how long we might stay in Iraq and Sen. John McCain’s, why not vote for the guy who wants to win before we get out. Obama’s move to the center may be smart politics, but on this issue, I think it might backfire.
Here’s a bit of the Krauthammer column:
"Obama’s seasonally adjusted principles are beginning to pile up: NAFTA, campaign finance reform, warrantless wiretaps, flag pins, gun control. What’s left?
"Iraq. The reversal is coming, and soon.
"Two weeks ago, I predicted that by Election Day Obama will have erased all meaningful differences with McCain on withdrawal from Iraq. I underestimated Obama’s cynicism. He will make the move much sooner. He will use his upcoming Iraq trip to acknowledge the remarkable improvements on the ground and to abandon his primary season commitment to a fixed 16-month timetable for removal of all combat troops.
"The shift has already begun. Thursday, he said that his "original position" on withdrawal has always been that "we’ve got to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable." And that "when I go to Iraq … I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies."
"The flip is almost complete. All that’s left to say is that the 16-month time frame remains his goal but he will, of course, take into account the situation on the ground and the recommendation of his generals in determining the ultimate pace of the withdrawal.
"Done. And with that, the Obama of the primaries, the Obama with last year’s most liberal voting record in the Senate, will have disappeared into the collective memory hole.
"Obama’s strategy is obvious. The country is in a deep malaise and eager for change. He and his party already have the advantage on economic and domestic issues. Obama, therefore, aims to clear the deck by moving rapidly to the center in those areas where he and his party are weakest, namely national security and the broader cultural issues. With these — and most importantly his war-losing Iraq policy — out of the way, the election will be decided on charisma and persona. In this corner: the young sleek cool hip elegant challenger. In the other corner: the old guy. No contest.
"After all, that’s how he beat Hillary. She originally ran as a centrist, expecting her nomination to be a mere coronation. At the first sign of serious opposition, however, she panicked and veered left. It was a fatal error. It eliminated all significant ideological and policy differences with Obama — her desperate attempts to magnify their minuscule disagreement on health care universality became almost comical — making the contest entirely one of personality. No contest.
"As Obama assiduously obliterates all differences with McCain on national security and social issues, he remains rightly confident that Bush fatigue, the lousy economy and his own charisma — he is easily the most dazzling political personality since John Kennedy — will carry him to the White House.
"Of course, once he gets there he will have to figure out what he really believes. The conventional liberal/populist stuff he campaigned on during the primaries? Or the reversals he is so artfully offering up now?
"I have no idea. Do you? Does he? "