From Australia to London to almost all points in between, if there are two things people know about Barack Obama, one of them is that he recently has changed his positions on abortion, gun control, capital punishment, FISA laws, the status of Jerusalem, faith-based federal programs, public financing of his campaign, welfare, NAFTA and free trade, the surge in Iraq, and his commitment to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his Trinity Church, among other public policies.
But it is said by his supporters -- and readily acknowledged by most public commentators -- that this is what candidates for president routinely do. If Republicans, they run to the right in the primary and run to the center in the general election. If Democrats, they run to the left in the primary and then to the center in the general. This is the policy version of the cynical Clinton defense: Everybody does it (although there is no evidence that any other president in history copulated a young White House intern). But we all know about the run to the center in presidential general elections.
Who can forget Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign, when he came out for tax cuts, lower social spending and more military spending in the primary, only to back away from those policies in the general election when he famously said: "I got a little rhetorically over-excited during the primary. On closer examination, President Carter seems to have built up our defenses sufficiently. We will have to see about those tax cuts; we may need the revenues for more social spending."
Or what about the 1968 campaign, when Nixon ran on a law-and-order platform in the primary, condemning hippies, riots and the rising urban crime. Then, in the general election that fall, all the networks covered Nixon's extraordinary visit to death row at San Quentin prison, after which Dick Nixon explained, his eyes red from heartfelt tears (though some people say it was from squinting at the cross tabulations of his polls that showed he couldn't carry Pennsylvania without carrying liberal Montgomery County), that by talking with the men on death row, he realized that capital punishment wasn't the answer; more spending on early education programs was needed. He then claimed he had a secret plan to outspend Hubert Humphrey on urban renewal.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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