A classic today, but this is the money quote:
Obama's strategy is obvious. The country is in a deep malaise and eager for change. He and his party already have the advantage on economic and domestic issues. Obama, therefore, aims to clear the deck by moving rapidly to the center in those areas where he and his party are weakest, namely national security and the broader cultural issues. With these -- and, most important, his war-losing Iraq policy -- out of the way, the election will be decided on charisma and persona. In this corner: the young sleek cool hip elegant challenger. In the other corner: the old guy. No contest...
As Obama assiduously obliterates all differences with McCain on national security and social issues, he remains rightly confident that Bush fatigue, the lousy economy and his own charisma -- he is easily the most dazzling political personality since John Kennedy -- will carry him to the White House.
They figure it out eventually (apart from the notion that Obama will "lose" any "war"). Having spent much of the year attacking Obama as a commie atheist alien (Hewitt only this week called Obama's post primary position a series of "lurches left"), the neocons are now going to have to attack him as a more electable version of the Clinton they came to love and praise in the primaries. Worse: they fear that Obama has shifted because he wanted to - not because they bullied him into it - and so they have no control any more. They won't be able to use all the usual FoxNews Rovian crap they have long been used to throwing at the Democratic nominee. Charles finishes with a question:
Of course, once he gets there he will have to figure out what he really believes. The conventional liberal/populist stuff he campaigned on during the primaries? Or the reversals he is so artfully offering up now?
I have no idea. Do you? Does he?
It's a rhetorical question but I'll answer it. Yes, I do. And yes, he does. He wants withdrawal from Iraq as prudently as possible. That this might take longer than sixteen months, even though that is the goal, is Bush's fault, not Obama's. Yes, he does want to expand access to private healthcare, engage Iran with more than bluster, raise taxes on the successful, pass immigration reform, end torture, and restore America's moral reputation in the world. And he intends to do it without acting like a rigid, purist ideologue, of the kind Krauthammer admires and of the kind that has driven us into a ditch in Iraq. His adjustments in the post-primary campaign take the hard edges off his clear policy positions, defuse some obvious weaknesses, move aggressively to the center ... and use his money advantage to win the thing. Er: he's a skilled politician. I know the Republicans are used to Democratic candidates being knocked about and defined and pummeled from the get-go. But Obama is different. Hadn't you noticed that yet?
(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty.)