Respected economic commentator Robert Samuelson laments the “Obama delusion”. He critiques Senator Obama’s policy planks and concludes:
[Obama] has run on the vague promise of "change," but on issue after issue --immigration, the economy, global warming -- he has offered boilerplate policiesthat evade the underlying causes of the stalemates. These issues remain contentious because they involve real conflicts or differences of opinion.
The contrast between his broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda is stark, and yet the press corps -- preoccupied with the political "horse race" -- has treated his invocation of "change" as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation's major problems when, so far, he isn't.
Alongside Obama the lightweight is Obama the leftie. Try this from George Bush's former top adviser Karl Rove.
Perhaps in response to criticisms that have been building in recent days, Mr. Obama pivoted Tuesday from his usual incantations. He dropped the pretense of being a candidate of inspiring but undescribed "post-partisan" change. Until now, Mr. Obama has been making appeals to the center, saying, for example, that we are not red or blue states, but the United States. But in his Houston speech, he used the opportunity of 45 (long) minutes on national TV to advocate a distinctly non-centrist, even proudly left-wing, agenda. By doing so, he opened himself to new and damaging contrasts and lines of criticism . . .
In recent days, courtesy of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Mr. Obama has invoked the Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin Roosevelt to show the power of words. But there is a critical difference between Mr. Obama's rhetoric and that of Jefferson, King and FDR. In each instance, their words were used to advance large, specific purposes -- establishing a new nation based on inalienable rights; achieving equal rights and a color-blind society; giving people confidence to endure a Great Depression. For Mr. Obama, words are merely a means to hide a left-leaning agenda behind the cloak of centrist rhetoric. That garment has now been torn. As voters see what his agenda is, his opponents can now far more effectively question his authenticity, credibility, record and fitness to be leader of the free world.
The road to the presidency just got steeper for Barack Obama, and all because he pivoted on Tuesday night.
Watch these counter-stories over the next few days and weeks. Similar efforts wrecked previous Democratic candidates’ presidential bids. And what is happening to Senator Obama is a valuable case study. These counter-stories – especially Rove’s efforts – can work because they’re simple and appeal to existing voter preconceptions.
[Thanks to the excellent Framing Science blog for these references]