Is Obama a flip-flopper? Has he been shifting to the right since the end of the primaries?
Let's take a look at Obama's positions on the issues now and then.
Obama on faith-based initiatives, July 2008: "I still believe it's a good idea to have a partnership between the White House and grass-roots groups, both faith-based and secular."
"I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don't believe this partnership will endanger that idea - so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them - or against the people you hire - on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we'll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work."
Obama on faith-based initiatives, January 2008: You wrote in "The Audacity of Hope" about the role that faith and faith-based programs could play in confronting social ills. Isn’t your view on that similar to George W. Bush’s?
"No, I don't think so, because I am much more concerned with maintaining the line between church and state. And I believe that, for the most part, we can facilitate the excellent work that's done by faith-based institutions when it comes to substance abuse treatment or prison ministries.... I think much of this work can be done in a way that doesn't conflict with church and state. I think George Bush is less concerned about that."
"My general criteria is that if a congregation or a church or synagogue or a mosque or a temple wants to provide social services and use government funds, then they should be able to structure it in a way that all people are able to access those services and that we're not seeing government dollars used to proselytize."
Obama on guns, June 2008: In his own statement, Obama defended the Second Amendment, but also echoed the concerns of those affected by gun violence.
He said that while the Supreme Court had overturned the D.C. gun ban, "Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today's ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country."
Obama said if elected president, he would uphold the rights of gun owners, but he said: "I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals."
Obama on guns, February 2008:
You said recently, "I have no intention of taking away folks' guns." But you support the D.C. handgun ban, and you've said that it's constitutional. How do you reconcile those two positions?
"Because I think we have two conflicting traditions in this country. I think it's important for us to recognize that we've got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of law-abiding citizens use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage. And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets. And cracking down on the various loopholes that exist in terms of background checks for children, the mentally ill. We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment and people's traditions."
Obama on abortion, July 2008: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate’s stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?
"I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that "mental distress" qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions."
Obama on abortion, April 2008: "On an issue like partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. All I've said is we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother, and many of the bills that came before me didn't have that."
Obama on Iraq, July 2008: "My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war -- responsibly, deliberately, but decisively. And I have seen no information that contradicts the notion that we can bring our troops out safely at a pace of one to two brigades a month, and again, that pace translates into having our combat troops out in 16 months' time."
Obama on Iraq, November 2007: He's said that he's going to get all combat troops out of Iraq by the end of his first year in office and is challenging the rest of you to say what you're going to do. Would you do that? Would you get all combat troops out of Iraq by the end of the first year?
"You know, John on this one I actually think has been either misinformed or isn't being entirely straight. I am committed to getting all of our combat troops out by 16 months. So he can say first year. I've said 16 months based on what the generals and commanders tell me can be done. And we are going to have still, I believe, the need to have some forces that are available to go after terrorist bases should they emerge in Iraq. Now if he doesn't think that's an important function, then I'm happy to have that debate. But be perfectly clear, I will bring this war to an end as quickly as can be done with the safety of the troops in mind, and my belief is that we can get that done in 16 months."
Obama on NAFTA, June 2008: Obama says he believes in "opening up a dialogue" with trading partners Canada and Mexico "and figuring to how we can make this work for all people."
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that Obama-as the candidate noted in Fortune's interview-has not changed his core position on NAFTA, and that he has always said he would talk to the leaders of Canada and Mexico in an effort to include enforceable labor and environmental standards in the pact.
Obama on NAFTA, September 2007: Obama was also pressed on trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement. He said he disagrees with more liberal rivals such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who want to scrap the deal. A better approach is tougher enforcement of labor and environmental standards, he said.
Obama on the death penalty, June 2008:"I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes," Mr. Obama said at a news conference. "I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that that does not violate our Constitution."
Obama on the death penalty, October 2006: "While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes--mass murder, the rape and murder of a child--so heinous that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment."
So, Obama a flip-flopper? Give me a break. People who claim this never fully understood his stances on the issues or are too lazy to perform a proper Google search.