/> 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
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?