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The Dangers of Not Paying Attention

I’ve been half shocked, half amused at the conniptions thrown by some of the big names of the blogosphere about Obama’s unabashed display of centrist pragmatism and his refusal to throw down over the diversions provided by Wes Clark.

It makes me think lot of people were so blinded by their hatred for Hillary Clinton that they never paid enough attention to Obama to realize that he’s neither Russ Feingold nor Elizabeth Edwards.

In case you made it through the primaries without really tuning in, here’s the thing about Obama. Dude is not a lefty. He got sainted by the left for his prescient opposition to the war in Iraq. But on social and economic issues from gun control to taxes his positions have been consistently centrist.

Indeed, this was the magic of how he defeated Clinton. He boxed her in on the left on the war and on the right about healthcare and just about everything else. The idea that he was suddenly going to turn into Chris Dodd on the FISA bill is just nonsense. He didn’t object when liberals everywhere projected their pet passions onto his candidacy. But that they are newly disillusioned is not his fault, but theirs.

Obama’s whole political platform is built around finding common ground that all Americans can feel good about moving toward. In a less attractive package this has been called “baby splitting” and even “triangulation.” But that we now see Obama embracing the competing ideals of gun control and gun rights, of church and state separation and federal funding for churches’ charitable works is the whole point. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. Together. Forward.

Now to this whole Wes Clark fiasco. Did Kos and company not even notice that Clark’s petty remark about McCain’s service stepped all over what was supposed to have been a major address about post-partisan patriotism intended to keep the campaign sailing through the Fourth of July holiday?

On the very day he was delivering a speech underscoring the heart of his new politics — “I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine” — there was the old Clintonite general engaging in a glib attack on McCain’s military record….

I suspect though, that that campaign is secretly pleased to have engendered noisy dissent from the Kossack wing of the party. It helps them communicate to independents and open minded Republicans that their candidate isn’t Russ Feingold or Elizabeth Edwards. And all kvetching aside, disillusioned or not, nobody on the activist left is going to A) sit this one out or B) defect to the Naderite dark side. Not so long as the alternative is John McCain and the 100-year war.

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