Obama's Gamble


It's a risky one, but, in my view, a better strategy than the alternative. From my Sunday column:

In a polarized climate, where Rudy Giuliani is already lambasting Hillary and itching for a fight, Obama is sticking to a disciplined message of reconciliation, unity, responsibility.

Is this a mistake? Whoever won a Democratic primary by insisting on being open to Republicans? That is the risk Obama is taking. But when you observe and listen closely, you see this is what he actually means.

He detects an enormous weariness among Americans about their internal divisions in a time of war, overlaid by the anger and divisions that have deepened and widened under the Bush presidency. He suspects that if he can get past Clinton’s aura of inevitability, Democrats will realise he has a much better chance of winning a real national majority in the general election than Clinton does. Clinton polarises the way Bush polarises. She can hope for a Karl Rove-style 51% majority in a deeply divided country. He’s aiming for 55%.

Clinton, in other words, represents payback for the Democrats and liberals after the Bush era, just as Giuliani is emerging as the inheritor of the Bush legacy of divide and rule. Right now, Obama remains to the side, offering Americans something else: not payback, but a new page.

The rest here.

(Photo: Obama at the SEIU confab. By Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty.)