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Media Insists on Viewing Obama Criticism Through Left-Right Lens

"Stop trying to force everything into that tired old way of looking at American politics."
 
 
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In the last two weeks, there has been a flurry of stories, both in the traditional press and in the blogosphere, that has tried to portray criticism of Barack Obama's recent stands as the sole province of disenchanted members of "the left" -- also referred to as "the far left" (New York Times), "left-winger bloggers" (also New York Times), "the liberal blogosphere" (USA Today, Christian Science Monitor), and "left-wing supporters" (The Telegraph).

And many of these stories have cited me, using the two posts I wrote urging Obama not to water down his brand and tack to the middle in an attempt to attract undecided swing voters as examples of the "fire from the left."

They must not have read the posts carefully. Actually, they must not have read them at all. So allow me to repeat a key graf from the first of these posts:

[I've] looked at the Obama campaign not through the prism of my own progressive views and beliefs, but through the prism of a cold-eyed campaign strategist who has no principles except winning. From that point of view, and taking nothing else into consideration, I can unequivocally say: the Obama campaign is making a very serious mistake.

Therefore, I am not "angry" or "outraged" or "howling that Mr. Obama is selling out the left." And his "policy switches" haven't given me "whiplash." I am not offended that he isn't marching in lockstep with progressives. I'd be worried if he was marching in lockstep with anyone. Other than himself. And that is the point I was trying to make.

My problem isn't that Barack Obama doesn't always agree with me. My problem is that Barack Obama has started to not always agree with himself -- falling prey instead to the Conventional Wisdom sirens.

That's why the seven suggestions I offered him were all about him "staying true to the vision and message that took him from longshot 'unlikely candidate' to presidential frontrunner" -- and why the first one was that he should "load up his Kindle with passages from leaders who were looking to fundamentally change the country and following an inner compass, not the latest focus-group results." It's why I reminded him of the words of Dr. King: "There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right."