(Nicole: MSNBC wasted no time parroting WSJ's editorial and getting those talking points out there.)
In fact, conservatives are so worried about it, the misguided ideologues at the Wall Street Journal editorial page have decided to make a novel argument: it’s Barack Obama, not McCain, who’s actually “running for … Bush’s third term.”
Take the surveillance of foreign terrorists. Last October, while running with the Democratic pack, the Illinois Senator vowed to “support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies” that assisted in such eavesdropping after 9/11. As recently as February, still running as the liberal favorite against Hillary Clinton, he was one of 29 Democrats who voted against allowing a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reform of surveillance rules even to come to the floor.
Two weeks ago, however, the House passed a bill that is essentially the same as that Senate version, and Mr. Obama now says he supports it. Apparently legal immunity for the telcos is vital for U.S. national security, just as Mr. Bush has claimed.
Now, I think Obama’s wrong to accept the FISA “compromise,” and have said so on many occasions. But to suggest that Obama’s position brings him into line with Bush/Cheney/McCain is foolish. Indeed, far from conceding that retroactive telecom immunity is “vital for U.S. national security,” Obama actually said the exact opposite, arguing that he still opposes the provision, and vowing to vote for its removal. The Journal used “apparently” to draw the conclusion it wanted to reach, instead of the one supported by reality.
It gets worse.
Next up for Mr. Obama’s political blessing will be Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy. Only weeks ago, the Democrat was calling for an immediate and rapid U.S. withdrawal. When General David Petraeus first testified about the surge in September 2007, Mr. Obama was dismissive and skeptical. But with the surge having worked wonders in Iraq, this week Mr. Obama went out of his way to defend General Petraeus against MoveOn.org’s attacks in 2007 that he was “General Betray Us.” Perhaps he had a late epiphany.
If I read this on a fringe, right-wing blog, it would be easier to dismiss as nonsense, but the Journal was a respected national newspaper. The WSJ argues, seriously, that Obama is running for “Bush’s third term,” because he “will” support Bush’s Iraq policy, as evidenced by his discomfort with the “Betray Us?” ad. I’m actually feeling kind sorry for how ridiculous the Journal’s editors are making themselves appear.
Mr. Obama has also made ostentatious leaps toward Mr. Bush on domestic issues. While he once bid for labor support by pledging a unilateral rewrite of Nafta, the Democrat now says he favors free trade as long as it works for “everybody.”
In this reality, Bush and Obama don’t agree on trade at all; McCain and Bush do.
Back in the day, the first-term Senator also voted against the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. But last week he agreed with their majority opinion in the Heller gun rights case, and with their dissent against the liberal majority’s ruling to ban the death penalty for rape.
Agreeing with two justices on two cases does not make Obama an acolyte of the Federalist Society.
This week the great Democratic hope even endorsed spending more money on faith-based charities. Apparently, this core plank of Mr. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” is not the assault on church-state separation that the ACLU and liberals have long claimed.
This is total nonsense. Obama’s policy bears no real resemblance to Bush’s, and Obama intends to protect the very safeguards that Bush’s faith-based initiative sought to eliminate. It’s the difference between a constitutional policy and an unconstitutional policy. Even a cursory glance at Obama’s speech makes that clear, which makes the Journal’s argument unusually intellectually dishonest.
The WSJ editorial helps demonstrate the flaw in starting with the answer and working backwards. Sensitive to McCain’s political problems, the Journal seems to have decided, “Let’s argue that Obama is running for Bush’s third term.” The editors then scrambled to come up with evidence to bolster the conclusion, ignoring inconvenient facts and details along the way.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s evidence that the Bush White House has had an even greater influence on the Wall Street Journal than previously thought.
Post Script: By the way, to hear some of the unhinged corners of the right tell it, Obama is both a radical liberal and a Bush clone. Conservatives really are going to have to pick one.