On The Attack

Karen Tumulty reports on Hillary Clinton's plan to mount a comeback:

But all that may be about to change. "We've got to start holding him to the standard people hold her to," Clinton's chief strategist Mark Penn told reporters aboard the campaign's chartered jet to New Hampshire. "I think there's a basic choice between experienced leadership for change and inexperienced leadership that talks about change."

Added another adviser: "You're going to see some very sharp media now." That suggests the next round of Clinton ads will go beyond the previous gentle references to Obama's lack of experience and begin to look at, for instance, inconsistency in his voting record. They are looking at issues like gun control, where he previously took a harder stand that may not play well with gun-loving voters in New Hampshire, and health care, where he previously expressed support for a government-run health care system. Clinton plans to exploit every whiff of inconsistency.

Those don't sound like incredibly devastating attacks to me, but we'll have to see. One thing to keep in mind is that just as Clinton had reasons to go relatively easy on Obama in Iowa, Obama had similar reasons to go relatively easy on Clinton. Both sides could easily launch much harsher attacks than they have thus far, which is one reason why I think Jon Chait's confidence in an Obama victory is a bit misplaced.

Meanwhile, earlier in the article Tumulty gets at what I thought about Clinton's speech last night: "with her husband the ex-President by her side, and an array of former Clinton Administration officials around her, Clinton was the center of a backward-looking tableau — a bridge to the 20th Century, as it were." Experience per se needn't be seen as in opposition to change, but a literal Clinton restoration does seem contrary to the idea of change. America has, meanwhile, elected plenty of presidents who were in some sense inexperienced (Obama has, lets recall, more experience as a legislator than does Clinton) and seen it work out fine; we've gotten burned by George W. Bush, of course, but that's because he's corrupt and intellectually lazy and I don't think Obama is either one of those.