On Friday, NewsBusters asked, "Will Anti-war Media Turn On Obama If He Flip-flops On Iraq?"
A few hours later, we got our first response from Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press.
In a piece entitled "Analysis: Obama's Shifts to Center Give GOP Ammo," although Loven did her best to blame the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee's flip-flop problems on "the Republican weapon of choice," she made it very clear that a change in position on Iraq -- whether real or imagined -- could be fatal for the junior senator from Illinois (emphasis added throughout):
Is Barack Obama close to being shadowed by giant flip-flops and, worse, having the image stick with people all the way to the voting booth? [...]
The Illinois senator has excited many with the notion that he is a new, transcendent type of politician. But he is giving the GOP effort ammunition and endangering his "Change We Can Believe In" motto with several shifts to the center, most recently on the Iraq war, his campaign's defining issue.
After listing recent Obama flip-flops -- from handguns, to terrorist surveillance -- Loven got to the heart of the junior senator's problem:
For Obama, there is no more important issue than Iraq.
Unequivocal opposition to the war drove his entrance into the race. It helped him defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination. It made him a darling of the anti-war activists who are now prominent and influential in the Democratic Party.
Those forces won't like Thursday's statement-bordering-on-a-promise that "I'll ... continue to refine my policy" on Iraq, particularly after he visits and makes what he said would be a "thorough assessment." [...]
His problem is that his change in emphasis to flexibility from a hard-nosed end-the-war stance — including his recent position that withdrawing combat troops could take as long as 16 months — will now be heard loud and clear by an anti-war camp that may have ignored it before. So he could face a double-whammy in their feelings of betrayal and other voters' belief in the Republican charge that he is craven. [...]
Obama said his overall problem is that he was incorrectly tagged to begin with as being a product solely of his party's left wing, so that statements displaying a broad ideological range are portrayed as shifts when they are not...But his problem may in fact be that he's not handling the shifts quietly enough — and maybe not forgivably either.
Of course, much like the New York Times' front page story "Obama Fuels Pullout Debate With Remarks," Loven's analysis was published on a national holiday at the beginning of a three day weekend.
However, when the Times and the AP are offering similar opinions on the same day, it could certainly be the beginning of a trend that bears watching in the weeks to come.