A Burris in Obama’s Saddle?

So just a short time ago, President #44 Barack Obama wanted nothing to do with embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich’s choice to take Obama’s Senate seat. Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate want Blagojevich out, and so they certainly don’t want him to continue exercising his powers (especially since that is what has gotten him in such hot water). When Blagojevich went ahead an appointed Roland Burris to be Illinois’ newest senator, Democrats said the man shouldn’t be seated and Obama agreed with them. It didn’t take long for Senate Democrats to change their tune, and Obama flipped on the issue, too.

Does this demonstrate a lack of intestinal fortitude by Obama? Maybe. It definitely says something unflattering about Congress—either they were too hasty with their first position, or they were too weak to stand by it. But so few people approve of Congress (10-14% depending on the poll one uses) that it doesn’t really matter about them. But what of Obama? Is he a man of convictions? He mocks Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy credentials then nominates her to be Secretary of State. Does it mean he has no backbone, or that he’s a shrewd political operator? He says Burris is a tainted pick then drops the protest. Is this a sign of weakness or political pragmatism?

Obama has maintained a consistent position on one thing recently, and it is something that upsets his power base: He is keeping Rick Warren on the program to give the inaugural prayer.

Many people in the country don’t really care about Obama’s character at this point anyway. If he can fix the economy, school children will be writing sonnets in his honor. Yet even here questions remain. Setting aside the pros and cons of Obama’s plan, let’s look at the big picture. He’s cutting taxes and advocating increased spending. When George W. Bush became President, he was committed to cutting taxes (generally pleasing to Republicans) and increasing funding to a major degree for certain social programs like schools and health care (generally pleasing to Democrats). It was like W. wanted to be a different kind of politician; post partisan, if you will.

Many blame Bush for the economy. Is Obama offering something fundamentally different (either with this specific plan or with his presidency)? Don’t get me wrong, I hope his plan helps the country. Maybe it will, or maybe it at least won’t do any harm. But I am curious as to what exactly Barack Obama stands for. I know he is pro choice on abortion. What else does he really believe in? It’s going to matter at some point.