Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
OBAMA'S GAME PLAN....The always perceptive Mark Schmitt notes that in his speech tonight, Barack Obama unveiled a campaign strategy that depends on attacking John McCain's politics, not his character. This is risky, considering the success that George Bush had with character assassination four years ago:
But there's another lesson in George W. Bush's 2004 victory over Kerry by demolishing Kerry's personal reputation: It left Kerry's agenda untouched. As Bush discovered from the day after his 2005 inauguration, he had no mandate for conservative policies such as Social Security privatization because he had not run on them.
But if it succeeds, it will have the effect of giving the next president exactly what George W. Bush didn't have: A mandate. The voters will have rejected not just McCain, but the entire economic and foreign policy agenda of conservatism. And that's as important as winning the election, perhaps more important.
Absolutely right. Tonight Obama made a start on a campaign that's based not just on talking points (though there will be plenty of those), but on a sustained assault on modern conservatism and a sustained defense of modern liberalism.
But it was only a start. He needs to keep pressing both halves of that game plan, even if it means occasionally saying some hard things. If he takes a few chances and does that, though, he'll not only win, he'll win with a public behind him that's actively sold on a genuinely liberal agenda. This is why conservatives have so far been apoplectic about his speech tonight: if he continues down this road, and wins, they know that he'll leave movement conservatism in tatters. He is, at least potentially, the most dangerous politician they've ever faced.