The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Questionnaire

Hillary Clinton mischaracterized the danger associated with her visit to Bosnia in 1996 and the media was all over it. Talk shows, news reports, and the ubiquitous talking heads clucked about her exaggeration. This is reasonable, given that she’s running for POTUS.

But it appears that Barack Obama has been caught in a lie concerning the contents of a 12-page questionnaire from an Illinois voter group during his state Senate campaign in 1996 -- the same year as Hillary's much-discussed overseas visit. Politico summarizes:
“Do you support … capital punishment?” one question asked.

“No,” the 1996 Obama campaign typed, without explaining his answer in the space provided.

“Do you support state legislation to … ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?” asked one of the three dozen questions.

“Yes,” was Obama’s entire answer.

Obama said he would support a single-payer health plan for Illinois “in principal” [sic], “although such a program will probably have to be instituted at a federal level; the long-term objective would be a universal care system that does not differentiate between the unemployed, the disabled, and so on.” The campaign says Obama has consistently supported single payer health care in principle.

Under single-payer health care, a government system would replace private health insurance. Obama’s campaign said he has always supported the idea in concept, but thinks it is not currently practical because of the existing health care infrastructure.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these responses. They are liberal in ideology, but so what?

The problem is that Obama’s stated positions on these issues, now that he’s running for President, have changed rather significantly. Even though comments written on the questionnaire appear to be in Obama’s own handwriting, he now asserts that the questionnaire was completed by a campaign aid and did not represent his positions on the issues at that time. He has now become more nuanced.

There’s more to this story and Politico covers it well.

My point isn’t so much whether Obama adapted his ideological positions for political expediency – most politicians do. But rather, why isn’t the MSM covering this important story – a story that any objective reporter could reasonably characterize as evidence of flip-flops on important issues. Oops, forgot, "objective reporter" is rapidly becoming an oxymoron.

Wretchard of The Belmont Club summarizes nicely when he states:
My guess is that unease which TalkLeft [a blog commenting on Obama’s responses to the questionnaire] feels about Obama isn't due to the mutability of his positions per se, so much as his apparent willingness to change his tune on the fly like a shapeshifter. That is not a judgment of his positions so much as an indication of his character. Which is exactly what to start with? And so the mystery surrounding Barack Obama's true self becomes deeper. Who is he really besides the Face?

It appears that the MSM resists any information that will help us to answer that question.