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More on Barack Obama’s Thinking

July 28, 2008

For all of Obama’s vaunted ability to process new ideas, is there evidence that he had changed positions for any reason other than political expedience?

Writing in Slate, John Dickerson writes:

In his book The Audacity of Hope, he writes about pulling aside reporters who were living in Iraq to get their views about the war. He expected them to agree with his call for a troop reduction. They didn’t. They said a troop reduction would start a civil war. Obama called for a troop reduction anyway, but we know his mind is alive enough to capture and remember a piece of data that didn’t fit with his pre-existing views.

What good is it to capture and remember data that don’t agree with your views if they don’t affect the views? There is more evidence of this in my prior post.

As Dickerson observes, part of the problem is that for variety of reasons, Presidents hardly ever get to say that were wrong, so they have to disguise changes in response to new information in stories about how they were right all along. Perhaps that is what is happening with Obama softening positions on a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

Maybe that is the sort of evidence that allows an affirmative answer to my initial question. Unfortunately, until Obama becomes president and words are translated into actions, it will be impossible to tell.

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