As early as his convention speech 4 years ago, Barack Obama has made reconciliation and a "new consensus" his hallmarks. So why, asks Gail Collins, are his most ardent supporters so dismayed that he's shifted to the center? Almost all of the issues for which Obama has taken heat this summer were predictable, writes the New York Times columnist, and "it’s not his fault that we missed the message."
Obama's alleged policy shifts can be grouped into two classes. There are "attempts to find a rational common ground," such as faith-based initiatives or gun ownership. Then there is "dumb-avoidance": opposing the gas tax holiday, backtracking on NAFTA. One exception, writes Collins, is the "complete, total, purebred flip-flop" of public campaign financing—and if that's your No. 1 issue, "you should either vote for John McCain or go home and put a pillow over your head."