Obama's Changed Positions on Issues

The AP reports on Barack Obama's changed opinions on issues over time. Chief among them:

  • The death penalty
    In 1996, when he was running for a seat in the Illinois Senate, Obama's campaign filled out a questionnaire flatly stating that he did not support capital punishment. By 2004, his position was that he supported the death penalty "in theory" but felt the system was so flawed that a national moratorium on executions was required.

    Today, he doesn't talk about a moratorium and says the death penalty is appropriate for "some crimes — mass murder, the rape and murder of a child — so heinous that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage."

  • The Patriot Act
    When he ran for the Senate, Obama called the act a "shoddy and dangerous law" that should be replaced. After he took office, the Senate considered an update that Obama criticized as only a modest improvement and one that was inferior to other alternatives. Still, Obama ended up voting for that renewal and update of the Patriot Act.

The article says Democrats are unlikely to attack him on his changing positions for fear of seeming negative, but Republicans may not show such restraint. Another person interviewed in the article thinks Republicans will use a different argument:

"If Obama is the Democratic candidate, I don't think the Republicans will be attacking him on a particular issue," said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. "They'd be attacking him on his experience."

Update: Obama is now criticizing John Edwards' record. I thought negativity didn't play in Iowa....

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  • Display: Sort:
    The direct attacks will be experience (none / 0) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 09:51:15 AM EST
    and that is one the Media may feel it will have have to pay attention to.

    Under the radar is where the ugly stuff will come.

    McCain is the worst opponent for Obama as it blunts his Media darling status and leaves him completely vulnerable to the "experience" attack.

    Then McCain is the toughest candidate for all the Dems.

    He is the only Republican who can win imo.

    I agree (none / 0) (#4)
    by BDB on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 11:14:05 AM EST
    I don't think Obama's changed positions matter much against Rudy or Romney, who aren't in any position to complain.

    Against McCain it becomes part of a larger attack on experience.  I suspect it also gets used to paint Obama as a guy selling snake oil compared to McCain's "straight talk."

    But I agree that McCain is toughest against any of the Dems.  He hasn't done nearly as much to anger Latinos, he still (still!) has a fairly positive image in the public and at large.  Edwards' change in positions becomes a bigger problem against McCain, too.  They'll paint Clinton as a "triangulator" compared to McCain the straight talker (which is a joke given how much McCain has pandered to his base).  

    The Democrats would have to go after McCain on Iraq and paint him as another Bush.  Obama might be best to do the former since he opposed the war.  Although I think even Clinton and Edwards could effectively use the war.  They voted for it, but they - like most Americans - have changed their minds.  Call it a reality-based campaign.  Edwards' one problem on Iraq is the allegation in Shrum's book that he voted for it for purely political purposes.  I think that hurts him potentially against McCain.

    But, yeah, McCain is the smart nominee.  He's the toughest for any of them to beat.


    The GOP old guard establishment (none / 0) (#7)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 01:56:15 PM EST
    probably is giving McCain a 2nd look. I don't see the evangelicals working hard for McCain.

    As for the "straight talk" reputation, perhaps people should be reminded of McCain, 2000, and McCain 2004. McCain's support for the Iraq war will not help him with independents- unless Democrats commit malpractice and don't remind voters of his unrepentant position.

    Iraq is the George Bush and Republican debacle.  In this regard, never-mind Democrats who voted for the AUMF or funding. The GOP's determination to depict Democrats as soft on the war works to the Democrats advantage in branding this as a GOP debacle.


    I have to believe McCain's (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 01:59:53 PM EST
    unrelenting support of the war in Iraq is entirely sincere.  He, of all people, should be fervently against it.  If he had voted against it, he could now pull a reverse-Lieberman and run as an Independent/quasi Democrat.

    P.S.  I haven't figured out how to add a sig. line on Talk Left.  Help?


    Tech support (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 02:12:26 PM EST
    go to your preferences, click the comment tab, then scroll to the bottom of the page.

    You should place a <the letter p> before your comment so it automatically puts a space between your comment and your sig line.  Leave "the letter" out so that it is just p between the <>


    You are the female counterpart of e k. (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 02:17:53 PM EST

    McCain probably deserves re-appraisal in (none / 0) (#2)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 10:18:04 AM EST
    light of his recent surge. I didn't think he could get his party's vote.

    I don't think the evangelicals will turn out heavily for him though in the general election. Right now my guess is the Huckabee take down will cost the GOP dearly in foot soldiers.

    As for Obama's changed positions, it is the politics of expedience. He just hasn't sold me on his campaign. I am trying to keep an open mind, but his original supporters haven't helped in the regard. BTD's support is frankly too soft to sell me. I keep hoping there is a Lincoln in there somewhere in Obama's soul, but I haven't seen it.

    I am not sure inexperience is the best attack on Obama, though one might think so.

    Given the GOP's utter incompetence, failure and corruption at governance, this election ought to be a sweeping change election, but I worry the Democratic party won't seize the moment and at best, the moment will seize them.

    I don't really mind a politician's changing (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 12:33:39 PM EST
    his or her mind if the explanation for doing so is logical.  I WISH Hillary Clinton would change her mind about the AMUF vote.

    P.S. Agree w/Molly Bloom on the "soft sell" of Obama by BTD.  


    Republican attacks (none / 0) (#3)
    by koshembos on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 11:13:16 AM EST
    My thinking is that the Republicans will through everything and the kitchen sink at any Democratic candidate. It will not be only experience; it'll be race, the name Hussein, the Muslim father, the support for the war in 2004-2005, etc.

    The assumption that the media likes Obama forever ignores that fact that the media always echoes the Republican attack arguments : Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Hillary Clinton. For the life of me, I cannot understand what's the rational of a change in this behavior.

    Obama thought the war was over in 2003 (none / 0) (#11)
    by MarkL on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 06:11:01 PM EST
    In 2003, Obama's anti-war speech was taken down from his campaign website. Why? I can't type the answer myself, because I'll be quivering with laughter so badly I couldn't type. Let me paste:

    The only reason that my original anti-war speech was removed from my website was a judgment that the speech was dated once the formal phase of the war was over, and my staff's desire to continually provide fresh news clips.

    from http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/011525.php

    The "formal part" of the war was over.
    I give Obama points for careful parsing---he could probably explain away that quote today, if he had to. But I just wonder what he thought about the predictions he made in 2002? Did he decide his 2002 speech was wrong, only to change his mind again in 2004?

    Please, give me Edwards or Hillary, or Biden in a pinch. Please don't send Obama to the GE so he can lose to McCain.