"Look, let me talk about the broader issue, this whole notion that I am shifting to the center," he told a crowd gathered at a town hall-style meeting in this Atlanta suburb. "The people who say this apparently haven't been listening to me."
"I believe in a whole lot of things that make me progressive and put me squarely in the Democratic camp," he said. But, he noted, he does not believe that the active hand of government is a replacement, say, for parental responsibility in education.
"I believe in personal responsibility; I also believe in faith," he said. "That's not something new; I've been talking about that for years. So the notion that this is me trying to look" — he waved his hands around his head — "centrist is not true."
Regarding his position on Iraq, he said, "Don't be confused: I will bring the Iraq war to a close when I am president of the United States of America."
Courtney E. Martin:
Let's not let Obama be our deity or our Britney Spears. Let's not hold him up to unrealistic standards, setting ourselves up for inevitable disillusion. And let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater when he shows his weaknesses. The loss is far too great to have an all-or-nothing attitude toward the man who would be king. It's not just his presidency that is in danger but our own sustainable civic involvement.
Responding to a questioner who claimed Social Security "will not be there" when current workers retire (which is wrong), McCain said this:Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed.
As anyone who knows anything about Social Security understands, "paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers" is pretty much the functional definition of Social Security. Always has been. That's what John McCain is calling an "absolute disgrace."
If the Obama campaign and the DNC don't take advantage of this, they're missing a huge opportunity. McCain has made a campaign-changing mistake.
Josh Marshall has more (TPM Vid)
Some news from my neck of the woods:
RALEIGH - L.F. Eason III gave up the only job he'd ever had rather than lower a flag to honor former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.
Eason, a 29-year veteran of the state Department of Agriculture, instructed his staff at a small Raleigh lab not to fly the U.S. or North Carolina flags at half-staff Monday, as called for in a directive to all state agencies by Gov. Mike Easley.
When a superior ordered the lab to follow the directive, Eason decided to retire rather than pay tribute to Helms. After several hours' delay, one of Eason's employees hung the flags at half-staff.