Commentary Magazine


The Road Ahead

Here and there among liberal pundits are suggestions that there is less than meets the eye in the Barack Obama message. If you lose Paul Krugman and Joe Klein thinks Obama-mania is getting “creepy” there may be a problem. Well, the Obama campaign did not get where it is by being dim. In Wisconsin, Obama is running an ad on an actual issue, health care. While the ad is not exactly a Brookings Institution policy paper, it does address a core issue for voters. I think, if he is the nominee, you will expect to see more substance, less chanting. It will be John McCain’s job, not an enviable one, to point out why, aside from the exceptional messenger, this is more of the same liberal domestic policy wish list agenda. It is never fun being the “No, you can’t” candidate, but it is a role that fits McCain well. (“No you can’t have the $1M Woodstock museum,” “No you can’t run a war on the cheap,” etc.) It remains to be seen whether he can do this without descending into the voice of doom and gloom and being painted as the naysayer. (His message can be phrased in positive terms, but “Yes, we can reach an acceptable outcome in Iraq” doesn’t exactly stir the masses.)