He ain't triangulating, he's my post-partisan. That's Eugene Robinson's innovative new MSM means of covering for Barack Obama. As Obama sprints toward the center and away from many of the positions that won him the nomination from the liberal Dem base, WaPo columnist Robinson has suggested that the nominee isn't engaging in the kind of cynical "triangulating" that made Bill Clinton famous. No, Obama's just being the post-partisan he really was all along.
Robinson trotted out his theory on last evening's "Race for the White House" on MSNBC in reaction to Obama's announcement, mirabile dictu, that far from junking Pres. Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives—long a target of the secular left—a President Obama would actually expand the program! Sounds like a cynical ploy to some. But not to Robinson . . .
View video here.
EUGENE ROBINSON: My headline tonight is a question: is it post-partisanship, or plain old triangulation? I think everyone's instinct, when we heard Barack Obama talk about the faith-based programs yesterday and put it together with his view of the Second Amendment again and other recent statements, the instinct was to say he's triangulating, he is moving to the right for the general-election campaign, as candidates do. That's the way you get elected.
I think there's another possibility. I think that what we're seeing is an expression of the Barack Obama of the beginning of the campaign who talked of post-partisanship, who talked about a political landscape in which Democrats didn't say well, we can't support any of those policies because Republicans support them, and we're Democrats, and people we like [don't?] support them, therefore we have to stay on our side of the fence and Republicans have to stay on their side of the fence. The Barack Obama who talks, and still talks, constantly about moving past the us vs. them politics of the 60s, getting over the Vietnam argument. And I wonder if the Barack Obama who talks about faith-based programs as important to the Obama White House, might not just be the real Barack Obama.
RACHEL MADDOW: Point taken, Gene. That said, if you had asked me a year ago whether the Democratic presidential candidate would be unveiling his own office of faith-based programs, I would have put you on my [Air America] radio show just for the pleasure of mocking you. Of course, I would have been wrong!
ROBINSON: A year ago we wouldn't have thought it was Barack Obama!
So he's not triangulating. This is the just the real Obama. It's Barack being Barack. How convenient. But if that's true, why didn't we hear about his faith-based initiative plans during primary season? And how does Robinson's theory of Post-Partisan Obama explain:
- That prior to the Supreme Court decision he suggested that the DC gun ban was constitutional, but now says he believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right.
- During the primaries, he spoke of ditching NAFTA unless it could be rengotiated and now has backed away from the threat?
- That he claimed he could never disown Rev. Wright, but ditched him when the water got hot?
- Who declared that he "will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies," then turned around and declared support for the FISA bill that grants immunit to the telecoms.
- Was the Simon-pure proponent of public campaign financing, till he realized he could outraise McCain by multi-millions?
Robinson can try to sell his post-partisan picture of Obama, but you'll excuse me if I opt for Charles Krauthammer's characterization: "By the time he's finished, Obama will have made the Clintons look scrupulous."