Ross Mackenzie

— Suggested that because he and John McCain disagree about the affects a proposed college-benefits measure for three-year military veterans would have on military retention, McCain is insufficient in his support of veterans. (McCain has responded that he will not listen to veteran-related lectures from an Obama “who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform.”)

— In effect offered this quid pro quo to the Teamsters, a union operating under a federal consent decree since 1992: union endorsement of his candidacy in exchange for his backing of an end to federal oversight of the union. (Obama also favors ending the secret-ballot in unionist elections — a change long at the top of Big Labor’s wish-list.)

— Offered a one-day reversal of his gauzy position toward Iran (toward Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea as well). In Oregon he said Iran and the others “don’t pose a serious threat to us.” The next day, in Montana, he said: “I’ve made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave.”

In Obama’s case the last — if not a true gaffe then certainly a switcheroo — likely is the most telling. For it suggests Obama is finding a major preachment (unconditional, no-strings talks in the first year of his presidency with Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, Hafez Assad, and others of that ilk) may be a detrimental to his campaign success. As it should be.

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democratic friend of Republican John McCain, has written pointedly on the subject of making nice with one’s declared enemies. He notes he grew up in a party “unafraid to make moral judgments about the world . . . a party that understood that either the American people stood united with free nations and freedom fighters against the forces of totalitarianism, or that we would fall divided.”

In the 1960s, he notes further, the party changed “around the war in Vietnam” to “a rival political philosophy (that) saw America as the aggressor, a morally bankrupt, imperialist power” with enemies we had somehow provoked, we had threatened, we had “failed to sit down (with) and accord them the respect they deserved.”

And finally, about his fellow Democrats:

“Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That, unfortunately, includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party’s left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.

Gaffes? Switcheroos? Or stupidities naive and profound?

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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