Obama excited the Democratic base for several reasons. He is young, obviously smart, thoughtful, a good speaker, and charismatic. He is black, which excited blacks who are unusually tribal in matters political, but he also excited younger whites indoctrinated in multiculturalism since their infancy and unimpressed with the GOP’s conventional choices. FInally, and most importantly, he was forthright on the war, an issue that seperated him dramatically from the cynical Hillary Clinton. Even anti-war conservatives have given him serious consideration on account of this stand. Now he’s damaged his credibility on this issue after weeks of damaging his credibility in general by making a move to the center.
Daniel Larison remarks:
[I]t seems to me that the charge that Obama committed a first-class political blunder going into a long weekend is basically right. Having already given substance to the idea that he will abandon important pledges made during the primaries with his flips on the FISA legislation and public financing, and having apparently reversed himself on at least a couple other questions in the space of a few weeks, it was an unusually poor time to be “inartful,” as they like to call it, about one of the central policy questions of the day. Even if Obama’s remarks were completely consistent with past statements, which I think is not the case, he had nonetheless set himself up over the last few weeks to be attacked for yet another shift on a major policy. If the McCain campaign has a problem coming up with a coherent message, Obama’s campaign has its own problems with message discipline. Having just shaken the confidence of many of his supporters over the FISA bill and having opened himself up to being portrayed as opportunistic on something as fundamental as constitutional protections, this was hardly the time to start talking about “refining” anything. The Obama campaign wants the candidate to display thoughtfulness, but they don’t seem to think very much about how the candidate’s phrases will be interpreted by supporters and critics alike.