There are two fascinating developments that have arisen with Barack Obama’s move to the center. Newsweek reports that Obama is leading McCain by only three points: 44% to 41%. Compare this with last month’s poll in which Obama led McCain 51% to 36%. It would appear that Obama supporters not only flocked to McCain, but, more importantly, preferred not to support either candidate. The Washington Post also reports that Obama is now having difficulties not only courting former Clinton supporters with deep pockets, but raising money in general. The activist base that Obama built up in the first six months of 2008 appears to have stopped sending along money. And who can blame them really? When your shining knight becomes a garden-variety opportunist, it’s probably better to spend the money on liquor.
There was an animated discussion here a few days ago over whether Obama’s shift to the center represented political realities that were necessary to take in or this represented the ultimate betrayal. I still feel that Obama has betrayed his base of supporters with his unpardonable trifecta of FISA flip-flopping, faith-based initiative, and the capitulation of public financing. But the best thing that Obama can probably do at this point is to tell the American people that he may have made a bad political decision, stop playing the “consistency” card (Obama pledged to filibuster any FISA bill with telecom immunity, but of course caved this week), and demonstrate in a big way that he actually gives a damn about the Fourth Amendment. He was able to pull out of the Reverend Wright scandal with his “A More Perfect Union” speech, presenting a complex and unexpected statement on a major national problem. Of course, back in March, he also had dwindling poll numbers in Pennsylvania. Thus, I’m wondering what would happen if Obama ran his campaign with the same “come from behind” tactic that has led him to frequently awe his supporters. Unfortunately, Obama’s recent actions have demonstrated that he is uninterested in taking risks now that he has the Democratic nomination in the bag. That may very well be the stuff of presidential material. But after two terms of Bush, I believe the American people are tired of presidential candidates who have sunk to the lowest common denominator. If Obama wishes to preach “consistency,” he has a responsibility to live up to the message of hope that he began his campaign with. And if he continues to demonstrate a desire to piss on the Constitution and to insult the intelligence of those who have endorsed him, he deserves to be raked across the coals without mercy.