Something went by in a blur on the road to Super Tuesday. The National Journal ranked Sen. Barack Obama the No. 1 liberal U.S. senator of 2007. Sen. Hillary Clinton came in somewhat less left-wing at No. 16.
Horrors. According to his press notices, Obama isn't supposed to be any kind of a liberal at all -- let alone "Number One" -- but rather the great non-partisan hand-holder and country re-maker. As in: "We (have to) decide to join hands and remake this country." (My response: Why? It's pretty well-made already.) Turns out he's not so non-partisan after all, at least not according to the, well, non-partisan criteria first devised by the National Journal back in 1981.
Not that you have to be a political scientist to figure this out. Just take a look at Obama's endorsements from MoveOn.Org, Ted Kennedy and more than 80 lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Or his positions on illegal aliens, raising taxes on "the wealthy" or talking Muslim world leaders into taking our side in the "war on terror" (despite the fact that some of them are busy abetting or even waging that same war against us).
Once upon a time, such positions could only be staked out on the far left. With Obama occupying them, however, they become the dreamy landscape of non-partisan epiphany. As the Washington Post campaign blog The Trail noted: "(His) is a platform that, delivered by others, might well be viewed as hewing to long-standing, traditional liberal notions. Yet Obama wraps it into his message of national transformation, making it sound part of a whole new package, and by the time he gets to his trademark crescendo conclusion, every person in the arena is standing ..."
Guess it's not easy to stand and think "liberal" at the same time -- especially with trademark crescendos dancing in your head. The disconnect has served the Obama camp well, allowing it to run far on thin and gaseous vapors of non-partisan "hope" and "change." That's why nobody at Obama headquarters was enthused by Obama's solid ideological victory as Top Senate Liberal for his votes as a leading anti-war senator supporting the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, amnesty for illegal aliens, and a host of liberal initiatives on health care, education, energy and the budget. Such a record sounds downright McGovernesque. But don't mention that out loud. After all, Barack Obama is a presidential candidate who likes to say, "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America." What if it got out that there is also a very liberal Barack Obama?