Here's one (always stupid but nonetheless tenacious) meme that must now surely die out. Obama was billed by some - on Fox right and Clinton left - as a lofty, saintly, principled figure who would bring the party crashing to its usual "eggheads-and-African-Americans" defeat because of his super liberal squeamishness. Yeah, right. Most black male 46 year-olds manage to get to be the favorite for the presidency by acting like Gandhi.

But Obama's post-primary pivot to neutralize all the usual GOP attacks - and reintroduce himself to Middle America - has been more than usually pronounced. He can live with FISA telecom immunity; he's flexible on troop withdrawal from Iraq; he's happy with executing child rapists; he doesn't need public financing; he'll out-patriot the Right; he's touting his support for welfare reform; he'll expand Bush's faith-based programs; and he's okay with the Supreme Court's view of the Second Amendment. Oh, and he'll reduce taxes on the middle class, while hiking them for the rich or successful or whatever you'll let me call them.

Does this sound like a man who's happy to lose an election rather than compromise on a few political stands?  He knows that the pent-up desire among Democrats to win this election gives him more lee-way with the base than he might otherwise have. And he's using that as effectively as he can.

It's been clear for a long time: A man who beat the Clintons is as ruthless as they are. Just smarter, and less susceptible to losing his grip on the core principles he still believes in.

(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.