Does pandering even matter?

During the ‘04 campaign I remember a lot of sympathetic media lamenting how damaging charges of “flip-flopping” were to Kerry; that the differences in position changes were actually small, that his words were taken out of context, that “everyone does it” and that his position changes suggested an “open mind”. I recall thinking that if this line of thought was taken to its logical conclusion the necessity for having an executive branch may have passed and that governance through referenda may ultimately be what people desire.

Do we really want a president who is simply better at researching and reacting to public opinion or do we want a president that leads with conviction?

Has communication technology given us the ability as a society to collectively know what policies are sound? Do we no longer need the leadership of an individual?

These aren’t rhetorical questions. Are our choices ultimately between another Clinton or another Bush?

McCain Tax Policy Shifts

Talk about pandering:

youtube video of Meet the Press


Another 3 position pivot

This is just additional context to the discussion in the previous post moved here per Ben's request.

Position 1:
Hawkish rhetoric recognizing the threat of Iran and the ongoing need from troops in Iraq:

A reduced but active presence will also send a clear message to hostile countries like Iran and Syria that we intend to remain a key player in this region…Make no mistake, if the Iranians and Syrians think they can use Iraq as another Afghanistan or a staging area from which to attack Israel or other countries, they are badly mistaken. It is in our national interest to prevent this from happening.

But what about the withdrawal?

Position 2:
Campaign commercial intended to subtly attack Hillary for supporting the Kyl-Lieberman amendment; a bipartisan measure that urged the U.S. government to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. This allowed the US greater ability to apply sanctions and tighten restrictions through the global financial system.

It passed this spring 76-22. Obama strongly opposed it with his signature rhetorical restraint:

Obama today also penned an op-ed in The Manchester Union-Leader warning that Congress -- including, notably, rival Hillary Clinton -- has given Bush the pretense to invade Iran by approving a recent Senate amendment. "When you give this president a blank check, you can't be surprised when he cashes it," Obama writes. "I strongly differ with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was the only Democratic presidential candidate to support this reckless amendment.

But perhaps aware of his fickleness he again opted not to record this position and just didn’t vote because he couldn’t make it.

Position 3
It was remarkable in terms of the strong language Obama used repeatedly to demonstrate the depth of his support for Israel, saying at one point that he had an "unshakeable commitment to Israel's security." His message appeared to be directed at American Jewish voters, an important voting bloc and one that has been wary of Obama's commitment to Israel.
On Iran, Obama said he would take no options off the table in dealing with the potential Iranian threat.
"A nuclear Iran would be a game changing situation not just in the Middle East but around the world," he said. "Whatever is- remains of our nuclear non-proliferation framework, I think would begin to disintegrate."
The senator argued that as other Middle Eastern countries, some with ties to terrorist organizations, sought nuclear weapons of their own that would increase the likelihood that loose nuclear materials could falling into the hands of terrorists.

"That is our single most important threat to Israel but also to the United States of America. So this is something that we're going to spend a lot of time working on," he said.
Obama said his goal was to mobilize the international community to offer big sticks and big carrots to Iran to end its nuclear program, urging the country to take advantage of what he called "the shift" in Bush administration's approach to direct talks.

Obama made a mistake when he began to list legislation he's supported to show that "vote after vote" he had been a friend to Israel.
"This past week we passed out of the US Senate Banking committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon," Obama said

There are lots more of these: FISA, NAFTA, Gun Control....


Sunlight is the best disenfectant.

The following article in the Chicago Sun parallels foolish moves made on the part of two politicians early in their careers. Worthy of note:

Amid crumbling bungalows on Chicago's South Side or ranch-style homes in the Phoenix suburbs, an ambitious politician can still get too close to a wheeler-dealer developer.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama admits it "was a boneheaded move" for him to buy property from his friend and donor Tony Rezko's wife after headlines proclaimed federal investigators were looking into Rezko's manipulation of state pension boards for his own profit. Rezko was later convicted on 16 fraud counts.

John McCain admitted he made a "serious error" in not reporting free trips to the Bahamas he took on friend and donor Charles Keating's private jet.

Republican candidate John McCain admitted he made a "serious error" in not reporting free trips to the Bahamas he took on friend and donor Charles Keating's private jet. McCain was one of the "Keating Five" senators who met with federal regulators to ask them not to crack down on Keating's failing Lincoln Savings and Loan.

Keating's political hardball bought him an extra two years. During that time, the cost to tax-payers of bailing out his thrift grew from $1.2 billion to $3.4 billion.

Both Obama and McCain, as up-and-coming office-seekers, attracted the attention of these friend-mentor figures early in their careers.

Which candidate was more naive? Did Obama and McCain show poor judgment by getting close to multi-millionaire businessmen accused of collecting office-holders to advance their interests? Which candidate¹s alliance with a donor hurt taxpayers more?