Victor Davis Hanson

Almost everyone is talking about Barack Obama's flip-flops, as the Senate's most liberal member steadily moves to the political center and disowns firebrands like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger.

But less noticed is that Obama is not just deflating John McCain's efforts to hold him to his long liberal record, but also embracing much of the present agenda of an unpopular President Bush on a wide variety of fronts.

Take social issues. Obama is now a gun-rights advocate. Like Bush, he applauded the Supreme Court's overturning of a Washington, D.C., ordinance banning the possession of handguns.

The senator, also like Bush, supports the death penalty. He recently objected to the court's rejection of a state law that allowed for the execution of child rapists.

And although Obama is still pro-choice, he now, like the president, thinks "mental distress" should not justify late-term abortion.

In addition, the new Obama would like to continue -- and even expand -- Bush's controversial faith-based initiative program of involving churches in government anti-poverty programs.

In fact, Obama is sounding a lot these days like those red-state, small-town conservatives he once caricatured in his infamous comment about Pennsylvanians who "cling" to such hot-button, but extraneous, social causes.

Consider also the campaign trail. Like a Republican in good standing -- but unlike the maverick John McCain -- Obama has, by his sudden forgoing of public funds, rejected the idea of campaign-finance reform.

In fact, he's the largest raiser of private cash in American political history, and seems to have dropped opposition to accepting pernicious "special interest money." Like a Republican, he raises the most among the nation's wealthiest on Wall Street.

During the primaries, Obama seemed to advocate the dismantling of the North American Free Trade Agreement. But now candidate Obama has little desire to overturn the present Bush trade policies.

On foreign policy and the war against terror, Obama once leaned left in his primary battles against Hillary Clinton. But his latest mutations move him once again closer to George Bush.

For all his prior talk of the loss of civil liberties, a President Obama, like a President Bush, would give telecommunication companies exemption from lawsuits over tapping private phone calls at government request.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.