I know that to some liberals, Barack Obama's rhetorical style bespeaks a lack of commitment to progressive values. I don't see it that way. I've always seen it as a pretty transparent trick. He says he's not one of those liberals, he doesn't call people "wingnuts," he understands the conservative point of view, blah blah blah, and then here comes his agenda of tax hikes, tons of new spending, ambitious carbon emissions curbs, less invading of other countries for no reason, gay equality, etc. And, remarkably, you keep seeing conservatives eat it up, discerning something incredibly "new" and "exciting" in a combination of conventional liberal policy views with vaguely conciliatory rhetoric.
Along those lines, Jason Zengerle flags this incredibly positive Steve Hayes Weekly Standard cover story on Obama. Particularly these bits:
[W]hile Obama eventually settles on the mainstream liberal position--path to citizenship, crack down on employers, don't punish the workers--he does so only after acknowledging (and in some cases, embracing) the concerns of conservatives. He begins by criticizing George W. Bush on immigration from the right and says that his first priority in ending illegal immigration would be securing the borders. (Ask John McCain if it's important to list border security first when detailing your solution.) [...]
This is the Obama trick, and it explains why, despite his very liberal voting record in the Senate (and in the Illinois Senate before that), he is not viewed as a left-wing ideologue. When a student asks Obama for his views on the Second Amendment, he reminds his audience that he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago and is thus familiar with the arguments regarding the right to bear arms. He acknowledges "a tradition of gun ownership in this country that can be respected," and says that his academic studies convinced him gun ownership "is an individual right and not just the right of a militia."
As Jason notes, the striking thing here is "that Hayes recognizes this as a trick--and he still falls for it!" And also that it's Steve Hayes who seems like a pretty hard-core hatchet man, "he's an ideological water carrier of the first order. Is there any conservative writer able to withstand Obama's charms? A nation turns its lonely eyes to Charles Krauthammer." A quick Google reveals that back in July when Obama and Hillary Clinton were in their spat about talking to "bad guys" without preconditions, Krauthammer slammed Obama so, yes, he's immune.