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Obama strays from image
Outsider appeal may fade as he shifts views and tactics
Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON - From the beginning, Barack Obama's special appeal was his vow to remain an idealistic outsider and never to shift his positions for political expediency or become a captive of inside-the-Beltway intelligentsia or kiss up to special interests and big money donors.
In recent weeks, though, Obama has done all those things.
He abandoned public campaign financing after years of championing it. He backed a compromise on wiretap legislation that gives telecom companies retroactive immunity for helping the government conduct spying without warrants. He dumped his controversial pastor of two decades -- and then his church -- after saying he could no more abandon the pastor than abandon his own grandmother.
He said he wouldn't wear the U.S. flag pin because it had become a substitute for true patriotism; then he started wearing it. He ramped up his courtship of unions; shifted from a pledge to protect working-class families from tax increases to a far more expensive promise not to raise taxes on families that earn up to $250,000 a year; and turned to longtime D.C. Democratic wise men to run his vice-presidential search and staff his foreign-policy brain trust.
Presidential candidates often tack toward the center after securing their party's nominations. But all this tactical repositioning by Obama suggests that he's a more complex, pragmatic and arguably more opportunistic politician than the fresh face of "change we can believe in" that he presented during the primary season.
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