One thing that I think’s gotten a bit lost in the progressive blog grumbling about Barack Obama’s recent efforts to put a more centrist foot forward is that he’s a substantially more liberal candidate than we’ve seen in quite some time. On an optics note, he didn’t show up to a DLC National Conversation that was held literally around the corner from his national campaign headquarters. John Kerry spoke at the ’04 version, Al Gore spoke at the 2000 version, etc. His health care proposals, though somewhat less far-reaching than Hillary Clinton’s or John Edwards’, are substantially more ambitious than what Kerry or Gore proposed. His climate change proposals are better than anything Kerry or Gore proposed. His foreign policy proposals represent a more daring break with the status quo than anything from the Clinton administration or the Kerry or Gore campaigns.
This is all true pretty much all up and down the line — whatever disappointments one has with Obama (and there are sure to be more to come) — he unquestionably represents a leftward shift relative to the sort of national candidates the Democratic Party has been putting forward in recent cycles.