- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Barack Obama no longer appears to be the leader of a movement that will herald a “new kind of politics”; he is instead just another candidate running for office.

During the last six weeks, Mr. Obama has erred in making unabashed flips-flops. Despite the increased attention he is currently receiving on his overseas tour, American voters are beginning to see beyond the glitter that the talented speaker dispensed throughout the Democratic primaries and caucuses. Mr. Obama’s poll ratings are the lowest since he clinched the nomination in early June, Rasmussen reported.

Mr. Obama and John McCain are now tied at 42 percent and 41 percent. While Mr. McCain’s ratings have remained consistent, Mr. Obama’s have dropped 6 percent since the end of the Democratic contest (48 percent of those polled on June 8-10 said they would vote for him). Thus, Mr. Obama did not receive the “bump” in the polls that many commentators expected he would get once the battle with Hillary Clinton came to an end. Rather, his support has weakened.

The same pattern is evident in an analysis of those voters whom are deemed “leaners.” Mr. Obama reached 50 percent support among that group in the middle of June; he now has 46 percent support. This, too, is roughly a tie with Mr. McCain, who attracts 45 percent of “leaners.” Mr. McCain is also leading on national security issues in general, by a margin of 53 percent to 39 percent. And Mr. McCain is ahead when voters assess who can best handle the Iraq war: 49 percent to 37 percent. The Rasmussen polls are confirmed by a recent Newsweek poll which demonstrates that the candidates are currently tied. Yet the Newsweek poll chronicles an even steeper drop for Mr. Obama; he is down 15 percentage points from the previous month.

Why has Mr. Obama’s support eroded in such a short time? There are two factors that are now working against him.

The first is that he has given his Republican opponent vital ammunition. Throughout the Democratic primaries and caucuses, Mr. Obama was especially skillful at preventing Mrs. Clinton from dragging him down from his lofty pronouncements; he did not take her bait by engaging in conventional political attacks and counter attacks. In essence, he killed her candidacy with kindness. Soon after, he began to reverse or “refine” his position on key issues - such as NAFTA, the war on terror, campaign financing, faith-based initiatives, partial-birth abortion, FISA and gun control. He can now be tagged by Mr. McCain as inconsistent and deceptive.

The second factor is that the Iraq surge, which Mr. Obama predicted would fail, is in fact working and is stabilizing Iraq. Thus, his judgment as commander in chief is increasingly in doubt.

Mr. Obama had achieved a hard-earned and high level of trust among American voters -and yet, he foolishly and recklessly squandered it. The movement is over.

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