Liberal Blogger Criticizes Obama's Move to Center

By Fred Lucas | July 7, 2008 | 8:33 PM EDT

( - As Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) apparently moves toward the political middle, he has offended one of the more influential liberal voices in the new media.

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the highly popular Daily Kos blog, denounced Obama for voting for the domestic surveillance legislation that provides limited immunity to telecommunication companies and for criticizing the left-wing activist group

"There is a line between 'moving to the center' and stabbing your allies in the back out of fear of being criticized. And, of late, he's been doing a lot of unnecessary stabbing, betraying his claims of being a new kind of politician," Moulitsas wrote on his site. "Not that I ever bought it, but Obama is now clearly not looking much different than every other Democratic politician who has ever turned his or her back on the base to prove centrist bona fides."

The critique from the Daily Kos founder is significant in that the blog has become the bible of the left in recent years, has sponsored events where Democratic presidential candidates speak, and played a potentially significant role in Obama's nomination as the blog was decidedly against New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and centrist Democratic policies.

After former President Bill Clinton's two terms, it appeared the centrist Democratic Leadership Council had gained greater influence in the party. That was until the grassroots effort led largely by Daily Kos and led to the reemergence of the party's left wing.

So Moulitsas was also upset that Obama "took his not-so-veiled swipe at MoveOn in his 'patriotism' speech."

Speaking to a crowd in Independence, Mo., Monday, Obama said, "All too often our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments - a fact most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, where those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal."

Obama was referring to a full page ad in The New York Times purchased by The words under a picture of Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" See Previous Story

Moulitsas also expressed frustration that Obama supported a compromise legislation on intercepting terrorist communications.

"First, he reversed course and capitulated on FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), not just turning back on the Constitution, but on the whole concept of 'leadership.' Personally, I like to see presidents 1.) lead, and 2.) uphold their promise to protect the Constitution," he wrote.

Moulitsas said he won't be contributing to Obama's campaign, because "I simply have no desire to reward bad behavior." However, he said he still supports Obama's candidacy, and said that the Illinois senator can still persuade him to contribute even though he doesn't believe the Obama campaign needs his $2,300.

Obama has followed the "standard model" for a presidential campaign, which is to appeal mainly to one's party base in the primary then move to the center in the general election, said John Samples, director of representative government at the CATO Institute.

"Obama wants to assure the public that he is not a radical so he has to identify himself with the center," Samples told Cybercast News Service . "He's not going to lose his base. He's going to convince them that 'whatever I say, I'm still with you.' And the evidence is he really is with them."

Further, he said, the public is almost desensitized to flip-flops, so long as it's done in moderation, Samples said.

"You've got to go where the votes are," he said. "There are cases, such as Mitt Romney, who seemed like a guy who would say anything to chase votes, and it hurt him. But a certain amount of flip-flops - that we've seen from Obama and McCain - are not fatal."

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