Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama put himself on the opposite side of his party's leadership in the Senate yesterday by reversing course to support a compromise intelligence surveillance bill. His vote was the most dramatic in a series of moves toward the middle that have focused new attention on where he stands and where he would take the country.
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One factor in Obama's success has been his ability to confound both left and right. But while that may be a measure of a skillful politician determined to win a general election, it has left unanswered important questions about his core principles and his presidential priorities. How well he answers them over the coming months will determine the outcome of his race against Republican Sen. John McCain.
Statements he has made over the past month have ignited a debate about who Obama is ideologically. His current policy positions have convinced some progressives that he is not one of them. Matt Stoller, editor ofOpenLeft.com, said that an Obama win in November would be a victory for "centrist government," adding: "Progressives are going to have to organize for progressive values."