Obama Might Finally Explain Where His Views Differ from Clinton’s

The New York Times reports that Barack Obama has stated he will start confronting Hillary Clinton more forcefully, “declaring that she had not been candid in describing her views on critical issues.”

In an interview on Friday that appeared timed by his campaign to signal the change of course, Mr. Obama said “now is the time” for him to distinguish himself from Mrs. Clinton. While he said that he was not out to “kneecap the front-runner, because I don’t think that’s what the country is looking for,” he said she was deliberately obscuring her positions for political gain and was less likely than he was to win back the White House for Democrats.

Asked if Mrs. Clinton had been fully truthful with voters about what she would do as president, Mr. Obama replied, “No.”

“I don’t think people know what her agenda exactly is,” Mr. Obama added, citing Social Security, Iraq and Iran as issues on which she had not been entirely forthcoming.

“Now it’s been very deft politically,” he said. “But one of the things that I firmly believe is that we’ve got to be clear with the American people right now about the important choices that we’re going to need to make in order to get a mandate for change, not to try to obfuscate and avoid being a target in the general election.”

Yes it is true that Clinton has not always been very clear on her views. Unfortunately the same can be said about most presidential candidates, including Obama himself. I have looked favorably on Obama considering that, assuming that Richardson and Dodd are unable to compete with the front runners, Obama is our best hope of preventing the undesirable result of Clinton winning and the even more disastrous result of Edwards winning.

Obama has often made comments which I’ve found appealing, but too little detail was often present. There is some question as to whether attacking Clinton would distract from his message of being a unifier. This would not be a problem if he concentrated on describing his views, and how they differed from Clinton’s, while avoiding the unproductive and divisive tactics utilized by Republicans from the right and Edwards from the left. Criticism of Clinton based upon real issues and ideas would be a welcome change from the increasingly inane attacks which Edwards has been utilizing in desperation.

While I still hope for more specifics from Obama, at least from my perspective he has clear advantages over Clinton on the key issues of Iraq and health care. He deserves credit for his opposition to the Iraq war from the start and for resisting the use of mandates in his health care plan. Obama also appears more likely than Clinton to support liberal principles in other areas. Andrew Sullivan touches on this and other issues as he presents his arguments in favor of Obama over Clinton:

There are, to me, three core issues in this election: the Constitution, the war and the environment. All three are urgent, and the need for deep, radical change overwhelming. It’s vital that the next president not assume and inherit the kind of extra-legal powers that Bush and Cheney have acquired as part of what amounts to a protectorate, not a presidency. The rule of law must be clearly re-established. Only Obama has the integrity to be trusted on that matter. Clinton will never have it. It’s vital also that the next president be committed to withdrawal from Iraq as swiftly and as cleanly as possible. Again: the difference between a triangulating shell of a politician and an actual human being who was right about this war in the first place is completely clear. And we need someone in the administration – Al Gore obviously springs to mind – who can marshall the country’s resources to tackle climate change and the urgent necessity for new energy sources. Gore loathes the Clintons as much as anyone, because he saw them close-up, and knows what their cynical, ruthless machine is really about: them. On those three issues, Obama is vastly superior to Clinton, whose history of executive secrecy and privilege, whose constant triangulation on the war and whose polarization of the country would make difficult and real change impossible.

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