I say we take him at his word. His recent actions and words certainly prove he meant it.
You are not, for example, a fiscal centrist when you continue to support the discredited federal overhaul of the health-care industry, as he did Monday. Nor can you look at Wisconsin's elected leaders and complain that public unions are being "vilified" and their "rights are infringed upon," as he also did Monday, and be anywhere near the center.
You definitely are not a centrist when, after two years of explosive spending, you can't find any serious waste in the federal government, even as the Government Accountability Office yesterday reported finding about $200 billion worth.
The pattern is clear. Obama was and remains a statist and a liberal. He wants to increase the size and power of government, and use that power to redistribute the national wealth. Everything else is detail.
The only surprise is that there is still any confusion over Obama's philosophy. Yet every time he meets with a business group or talks about bipartisanship, there is a flurry of instant wisdom saying he's shifting.
The feints are intentional. By making gestures he knows will be interpreted by some as moving to the middle, Obama aims to get benefit among the moderate independent voters he will need next year.
But, as former GE boss Jack Welch said on TV yesterday, "The tack to the center is verbal, it's not actionable."
It takes a centrist to move to the center. And that's not who Obama is.