It's a clear sign of how confident Barack Obama feels in the fit of the Democratic nominating coat that's being tailored for his slender frame. A move right out of playbook of his political fathers: the quick slant right, the move to the middle, the shedding of partisan clothing - call it what you like. And nothing hangs so indecorously on the shoulders of a Democratic candidate for President as the word "liberal." So here's Obama at another mass rally in Texas, reported by NBC's Aswini Anburajan.
"Oh, he's liberal,” he said. “He's liberal. Let me tell you something. There's nothing liberal about wanting to reduce money in politics that is common sense. There's nothing liberal about wanting to make sure [our soldiers] are treated properly when they come home.”
Continuing on his riff: "There's nothing liberal about wanting to make sure that everybody has healthcare, but we are spending more on healthcare in this country than any other advanced country. We got more uninsured. There's nothing liberal about saying that doesn't make sense, and we should so something smarter with our health care system. Don't let them run that okie doke on you!"
This kind of talk gives Chris Bowers pause over at OpenLeft - Chris moved from Edward to Obama (in retrospect, part of a late-breaking horde that has pretty much given Obama the nomination) and he expected a full-throated defense of liberalism. Is this buyer's remorse from Bowers?
From this point, a discussion about liberalism and Obama can take many turns. First, it could be argued, as I am sure many Obama supporters will argue, that Obama is taking "liberalism" or "progressivism" and making a some sort of move where the ideas behind those labels are redefined as moderate. Thus, liberalism and progressivism become mainstream. My counter to that is that no, that does not make liberalism and progressivism mainstream, it just makes being "moderate" more like being a liberal or progressive. When the good ideas behind liberalism, like universal health care, are denied from liberalism, what it really seems to do it make liberalism or progressivism some sort of fringe extreme where even universal health care isn't good enough health care. Rather than making liberalism mainstream, is denies liberals any credit for having good ideas, and pushes them further to the fringe.
I agree with that sentiment, especially on universal healthcare - which, in choosing Obama over Clinton, the Democratic electorate is as good as abandoning. Then there's the news of movement toward Obama from the very same DLC types that netroots bloggers blasted Hillary Clinton for cozying up to - there seems to be shock (shock!) that centrist Democrats interested in a centrist, aisle-crossing Democratic president would move to support Obama. Did they imagine leftist purity in Barack Obama?