In numerous polls Barack Obama seems to have hit a ceiling, unable to move his support above fifty percent of likely voters; this, despite a host of factors that had pundits predicting that a Democrat "" any Democrat "" could take the White House this year.
Not that he hasn't tried.
Obama has embraced the second amendment and done another about face on an expanded application of the death penalty. He supports expanding "faith based initiatives."-
The Senator has repudiated the incendiary preacher of his black church and went on record to oppose a national "apology"- and reparations to blacks for the past sins and present putative failure of America on their behalf.
Obama has sought to undercut McCain by modifying his formerly strong anti-NAFTA position and acknowledging that there has been progress in Iraq. He has allowed that as president, the pace of disengagement from Iraq would take into account "conditions on the ground"- and preservation of the gains made.
The Senator has courted the motoring public "" largely suburban and white "" with proposals to ease the gas crisis by tapping the strategic oil reserve "" the kind of short term fix he once called a "gimmick"- - and now has joined McCain in support of off-shore drilling for oil, which he also formerly opposed.
He has been cheered abroad. Still Obama can't move past the fifty percent mark. Why? The explanation that will inevitably be offered--is already being offered--is of course, race: he's not reaching the whites in Hillaryland.
That is an excuse for a campaign that has gone badly off the tracks.
Through the primary elections and with his extraordinary speech about race, Obama was capturing white voters, and young voters and independent voters. Even many Republicans found him interesting.
But since the primaries, as Obama has re-worked one position after another, compromised and shifted ground to appeal to a wider spectrum of voters, he has lost appeal.
Or as one friend and an early Obama supporter recently put it:
Q. "How do you spell Obama?"-
Obama is destroying his own message, the one that first resonated with the American people.
He has been lucky to date. Obama lost the voice that made him authentic at the same time John McCain lost his. If McCain should recover his voice before Obama does, Obama may yet win, but it will be very close. In which case the Democratic Congress, and not he will govern.
How might Obama get his voice back? The key lies in focus.