The Difference

I'd considered writing one of these "meta" posts about the Obama campaign, where it's going, etc., etc. offering my random advice, etc., etc. but then I realized I hate that stuff. Instead, here's an observation: It seems that most people don't perceive a meaningful difference between Clinton and Obama on foreign policy. It also seems that one important exception to that is a chorus of "centrist" hawks frequently derided in the blogosphere as Very Serious People.

We've got Sebastian Mallaby slamming "Bush haters" for not wanting a war with Iran and praising Clinton as the "foreign policy grownup." You've got Michael O'Hanlon. You've got the Post editorial board slamming Obama on Iran. Things like that. These plugged-in hawkish elites don't find Clinton threatening, and do find Obama threatening. Conversely, Obama's foreign policy team is largely drawn from the ranks of people who were marginalized by the hawks back during the 2002-2004 period. The Obama campaign hasn't done a great job of explaining exactly what the cash value of this difference is, and personally I think it's hard to know for sure what it is, but I'm pretty sure it's something and given the amount of time the progressive blogosphere spends slamming the O'Hanlons and Hiatt's of the world I'm surprised that people seem inclined to put such little weight on it. So, yes, like Josh I wish Obama would articulate this more prominently but for whatever it's worth it seems to me that the difference is there and important whether or not Obama's campaign articulates it clearly.