Saturday, March 29, 2008
No Left Turns points us to a shift in Obama's rhetoric regarding Rev. Wright. Obama was smarter to let things lie as they did after the Philly speech - and let his allies, especially in the media, intelligentsia, and black church establishments, construct apologies (in the sense of providing arguments) on his behalf. By starting to shift his position, he risks ending up with what we might call the "Kerry" problem. Kerry lost the 2004 elections, in my view, largely because he couldn't explain what he *really* thought about the war in Iraq. His classic "I voted for it before I voted against it" fatally wounded his campaign precisely because it so perfectly exemplified his waffling and left him without a coherent narrative to pull the campaign together. Likewise with Obama, as he tries to subtly shift his positions away from Wright, it will become all the more difficult for him to explain that relationship. The questions will just pile on: now, instead of just having to answer why he stuck around TUCC, he'll have to answer why he's saying something different than he said before. The problem, I suspect, is that there's more Wright nastiness out there and that Obama has realized that while Wright probably doesn't represent a fatal problem in the primaries, he's a heavy burden to carry in the general election. But the "pivot" here (if that's what this is) may end up being the thing that does him in.