Collins: Obama's Not Flip-flopping—He's Bringing Us Together

Got to be good looking
'cause he's so hard to see
Come together right now
Over me—The Beatles, "Come Together" (1969) [YouTube]

Bob Herbert just doesn't get it.  As Noel Sheppard has noted, in his NYT column today Herbert accuses Barack Obama of "lurching right when it suits him, and . . . zigging with the kind of reckless abandon that’s guaranteed to cause disillusion, if not whiplash." The NY Times columnist goes on to condemn the candidate for "pandering to evangelicals;"  agreeing with Justices Scalia and Thomas on a "barbaric" interpretation of the 8th Amendment; and playing a "dangerous game" with his "shifts and panders."

No, no, no, Bob!  That's not what's happening at all.  Obama isn't flip-flopping.  He's simply fulfilling his pledge to bring us together. What makes Herbert's obtuseness all the more infuriating is that enlightenment was just a stroll down the corridor away, to the office of Gail Collins.   Herbert's fellow Times columnist explained what is really going on during her appearance today on Morning Joe.

View video here.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: What's your take on Barack Obama flip-flopping, whether it's abortion or Iraq or these other issues.  Is he flip-flopping, or is he just pragmatic?

GAIL COLLINS: You know, I don't quite get this. I mean, I sat through all those speeches that he made before he got the nomination in which he said that he was going to bring the country together. We're going to have red states and blue states, we're all going to get together and work together as one group.  Now I don't know where everybody thought this coming together was going to be, but I don't think left field was going to be the place that everybody was going to come together. He was saying this all along. It's just that he said it in such a neat way.
SCARBOROUGH: So unlike Bob Herbert or E.J. Dionne, or others, you're not especially, you're not wringing your hands.

COLLINS: No.  It seems to me he's doing exactly what, if you paid attention, he said he was going to do.

Yes, it's the public's fault for not paying attention.  Collins echoes Obama in this, who just yesterday complained that those who accuse him of flip-flopping "apparently haven’t been listening to me."

Just one thing continues to trouble me, though I'm sure Collins will soon clear it up. If Obama really intended to bring us together somewhere other than in left field, why didn't he make that clear before he wrapped up the Dem nomination?  While he still needed to appeal to his party's left-wing base, why did he rack up the most liberal voting record in the Senate, threaten to unilaterally abrogate NAFTA, pledge to get us out of Iraq in 16 months no matter what the generals said, assert that the DC gun ban was constitutional, and promise to filibuster telcom immunity under FISA?  

What didn't Barack Obama let liberal Dems know from day one that he wasn't with them?  Why is this meeting in center field only happening now?   It's almost enough to make a guy suspect cynical pandering's going on. But thanks to Gail, of course we know better.

Note: John Lennon wrote "Come Together" as a campaign song for LSD-maven Timothy Leary, who in 1969 was seeking to run for governor of California against Ronald Reagan.  "Come together, join the party," was Leary's campaign slogan.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.