Obama & McCain Flip-Flops

By Reuters Staff
July 4, 2008

Barack Obama has been sprinting to the center since he secured the Democratic nomination. If he’s not totally reversing himself on many issues, he’s certainly qualifying his views in significant, new ways:

All of the above happened just in the last three weeks.

I’m not commenting on his views, old or new. My point is that voters should get over the idea that Obama represents a “different kind of politics.” He may be young and fresh, but his tactics aren’t.

To be sure, McCain has reversed or qualified many of his own views:

That McCain is making an end-run around the campaign finance legislation HE WROTE is particularly ironic. This is “straight talk?”

To his credit, McCain has stood firm on Iraq. Last year, when he was languishing in last place among the Republican contenders and the war had lost its popularity with the party, McCain was front and center supporting the troop “surge.” Again, I’m not offering an opinion either way here, just noting that McCain took a tough stand on an issue that probably cost him votes early in the primary process.

McCain has also shown backbone on two smaller issues that could cost him support in crucial electoral states.

Three weeks before the primary, when he was still in fifth place, he told Iowa farmers that ethanol subsidies are a mistake. And he told Floridians that he opposes a national catastrophic insurance fund popular in their state. There’s really no question that both plans are bad public policy.

Why are we putting corn into gas tanks when food prices are skyrocketing worldwide? [The World Bank is sitting on an internal report that claims biofuels have pushed global food prices up 75%]

And why should taxpayers subsidize insurance rates for folks who choose to build homes in hurricane-prone areas?

That Iowa and Florida are both crucial states on the electoral map is what makes McCain’s stand on these issues remarkable. Any guesses where Barack is on ethanol and catastrophe insurance?

Speaking of buying Florida votes with convenient positions, Obama also flip-flopped on the Cuba embargo.

Two open questions for my readers: Did Primary Candidate Obama take a stand on any issue that polled worse than 50% among the Democratic base? Is General Election Candidate Obama sticking to a single position that polls worse than 50% in a swing state?

There’s got to be at least one, right?

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More germane to this blog and to the theme of ‘politics as usual,’ both candidates have (or had) ties to shady characters in banking/housing:

Obama

  • Obama’s association with (now convicted felon) Tony Rezko is well-known.
  • The Washington Post recently reported that he got a cushy home loan from Northern Trust. (To be fair, Barack’s loan doesn’t appear as questionable as the Friend of Angelo loans that went to Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad.)
  • Obama adviser Jim Johnson received multiple Friend of Angelo loans from CFC, and was quickly shown the door. But the fact that Johnson, the former CEO of Fannie Mae, has remained so close to Democratic politics despite the accounting scandals at Fannie is more troublesome.
  • Then there’s Obama’s national finance chairwoman, billionaire Penny Pritzker, whose subprime lending operation Superior Bank went under earlier this decade amidst an accounting scandal.

McCain

  • Making all of the above seem trivial by comparison, McCain was one of the Keating Five. Keating was the Angelo Mozilo of the S&L scandal. Besides receiving hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions from Keating, McCain’s family took nine trips, at Keating’s expense, on his corporate jet. And McCain’s wife and father-in-law invested nearly $400,000 in a Keating shopping center.

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[Full disclosure: Obama is the only political candidate to whom I have ever donated. Wrote a check for $75 back in early 2004. Chipped in another $25 this year after Hillary's Bosnia lie.]

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