Obama’s positions will eventually be defined

Stephen Ontko

With Barack Obama now set to be president, Democrats are excited the nation is heading back toward the Clinton years, while Republicans fear an ultra-liberal, European socialist agenda. Given the emptiness of Obama’s campaign rhetoric, any type of ‘change’ is possible, as Obama’s scant résumé harbors both great partisanship and opportunism.

During his victory speech election night, Obama once again referred to his empty slogan of ‘change,’ claiming “change has come to America.” Yet Obama’s ascension into politics has been marked by nothing but the usual politics of special interests and expediency, and there’s no indication his upcoming presidency will in any way reverse this.

Obama had opportunities to back his rhetoric with actions in Chicago, but was more interested in propelling his own career. The Chicago Tribune reported June 12, 2007, that Obama supported Alexi Giannoulias for Illinois state treasurer while reports existed of him lending “to crime figures.” Giannoulias also donated over ten grand to Obama.

The Chicago Tribune also mentioned Obama endorsed Todd Stroger for Cook County Board president and felt that Stroger was “a good progressive” Democrat, even though Stroger was allegedly using the county payroll for his own interests.

When Obama isn’t being calculating for political support and funding from donors, he takes whatever means necessary to convince voters that his policy stances are aligned with theirs, even if his voting record or previous statements tell a different story.

The AP reported Aug. 1 that Obama took a position against offshore drilling and favored keeping the moratorium on it. He even said his stance was principled because he felt he wasn’t saying “something because it sounds good politically.” Yet his position changed precisely because of political expediency. Obama decided he would consider drilling offshore after all, CNN reported Aug. 2. The story also cited a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll a week before, saying 69 percent of Americans favored offshore drilling.

Obama also catered to his audience when he spoke of the Israeli capital of Jerusalem to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, calling for an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Jerusalem Post reported June 6. When Obama wasn’t speaking in front of this group with a heavy stake in Israeli affairs, his campaign rescinded, stating the matter should be determined by the peace process.

There is probably no greater issue than the Iraq war, where Obama has used opportunism to appeal to the American public. Despite the overwhelming success of the surge, the Washington Times reported Aug. 20 that Obama has been a large opponent of the military strategy. He doesn’t want the electorate to realize this lapse in wartime judgment, so he doesn’t mention it, even during the few times he acknowledges the surge succeeded, such as when he’s interviewed by Bill O’Reilly or other instances when Obama is actually having his policies challenged by the press.

Whether Obama uses opportunism to further his own personal interests that might lead to moderate policies, or uses every opportunity to pursue a highly partisan liberal agenda, the direction Obama will take and the fate of this country is uncertain. Reeling from the decision America made last week, whatever the outcome for the next four years – and especially the next two with liberal Democrats controlling Congress – America deserves what she voted for.

Stephen Ontko is a senior economics major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].