What if Obama isn't tacking to the center just for the general election as all us good progressives would like to think, but instead he genuinely believes his positions? What if he meant it all along when he said he didn't see red states or blue states but the United States? What if he wasn't kidding when he blamed both the old guard Republicans and the old school Dems for the gridlock that has paralyzed the past decade of so? What if he really is very Christian and not just pretending, as you lefty atheists not-so-secretly wish? I can't tell you how many times I've heard friends say, "He's just like us. He can't really believe that mumbo-jumbo." (For the record I'm more of a Zen Buddhist but I think it takes a nuanced mind for a man of intellect to also be a man of faith.)
I was a little late to jump on the Obama bandwagon for many of these very reasons. I didn't find his positions, especially on universal health care, as progressive as I would have wished. Both he and Hillary seemed very much of the DLC centrist mold despite calling themselves progressives.
Paul Krugman has been writing about this for months but you Obama fans to the left of him just didn't want to listen. The same thing happened with Howard Dean. He was an openly centrist, pro-business governor, but because he was anti-war, progressives ignored his record and just assumed he was to the left of Ralph Nader.
I came around to Obama 100% only after his transcendent Philadelphia race speech. I decided I didn't have to agree with him on all the issues. And his relative hawkishness for a "liberal" I couldn't agree with more. I shudder to think of Dennis Kucinich as Commander-in-Chief. There really are bad guys out there hellbent on our annihilation and we really do have to defend ourselves. Of course that doesn't mean the use of dumb sticks as the Bush administration has done, but it doesn't mean just traipsing around with a bag full of carrots either.
Obama's strength isn't his slavish adherence to party line but his ability, issue by issue, to decide the right medicine at the right moment.
If that makes you call him a centrist then so be it. Get over it already. He's nobody's man but his own.