Austin Bay

We've now seen enough of Barack Obama's campaign to get an idea of his remarkably agile strategic plan. Obama bills himself as the candidate of "change and hope" -- and change is a key component in his plan, if by change we mean radical political flexibility characterized by dramatic shifts in fundamental policy, or quickly substituting today's iron-clad principles for last week's rusting certainties, or adroitly morphing his eternal verity of Old Testament May into a revised piety befitting New Age July.

Obama's change isn't simply the expedient replacement of once-upon-a-time principle, exemplified by his rejection of public election financing. When the winds shift, Obama's strategic plan changes people. Since the end of March, Obama's "campaign of change" has used his grandmother and booted the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Convicted Chicago grifter and Obama buddy Tony Rezko? He's so changed he's vanished.

Fair bet Obama holds firm with one personality, however: bomb-wielding terrorist, connected elite and hard-left political radical Bill Ayers. Call it a suspicion, based on years of watching wealthy white radicals in California and Texas move from dashikis to Under Armour, but I don't think a money-ed up Maoist like Ayers is a candidate for Obama's "people change."

Spoiled rich kids with glitzy left-wing credentials get the breaks. Dad's cash or the divorce settlement pays for the house and help. It's why they sport job titles like "artist and activist." Ayers will operate behind Obama's oratorical screen for the duration.

Obama's biggest looming change involves war, specifically Iraq. Oh, I know Obama has set the stage for "change" on that issue. Foreign policy adviser Samantha Power got "changed" for calling Hillary Clinton "a monster," but what she told BBC interview ace Steve Sackur in March about Obama's Iraq policy was far more interesting.

When Sackur asked: "So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out in 16 months isn't a commitment, isn't it?" Power, from a cocoon spun of Ivy League presumption that everyone in the press is in the tank for Obama, answered: "You can't make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009. He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. senator."

Hey, I believe her. Obama is a creature of political prestidigitation, and last week in Fargo, N.D., he began his "war flip-flop" by suggesting he might "refine" his Iraq policy. Obama, like his pal Ayers, thinks most people are just too dumb to notice his shiftiness or, like MSNBC's Chris Matthews, are too knee-tingling awed by his rhetorical pomp to care.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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