On the other hand, Obama’s explanations leave a lot to be desired. In fact, he informs us that he hasn’t changed any of his positions at all. The change is all in the minds of his critics! While some of his supporters on the left have raised a hew and cry over his shift on things like telecommunications surveillance, most seem prepared to cut him the slack he needs to grab the political center in advance of the fall campaign.

In his latest move to seize that ground, he’s recalibrated his primary campaign antiwar pitch to assure general election voters he would not pull troops out of Iraq precipitously if it might put the gains made by the Bush surge strategy (which he opposed) at risk. His supporters have raised nary a peep in protest.


So while Obama tells us he hasn’t changed at all, even as he radically alters his positions before our astonished eyes, McCain has tried to explain and defend his own altered views. But Obama’s responses, delivered in his now famous, almost hypnotic baritone, continue to assure us that we didn’t really see what we thought we saw while John McCain fidgets uncomfortably under the klieg lights.

Smart as well as soothing (both to listen to and to watch), it’s hard to disbelieve Obama when he assures us we must have misunderstood him, that he’s never changed any of his positions, ever – even as he changes them, one after another, in rapid-fire succession.

John McCain remains an awkward man, made even less graceful by the injuries he sustained as a prisoner of war in a long ago conflict, and in this year’s competition of who can flip with less obvious flop in the presidential race, it looks like its still “advantage Obama” – as it’s been for most of the race so far.


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Stuart W. Mirsky, a former New York City official and longtime Republican activist, is the author of several books, including a historical novel about Vikings and Indians in eleventh-century North America (“The King of Vinland's Saga”); a Holocaust memoir about a young Jewish girl trapped in eastern Poland at the height of World War II (“A Raft on the River”), and a work of contemporary moral philosophy (“Choice and Action”) exploring the linguistic and logical underpinnings of our ethical beliefs.