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Who Knows?

Ben Smith observes:

The nation’s economic crisis triggered Obama’s sharp rise in what had been a tight race. But Obama hasn’t tried to seize the kind of central, national leadership position for which McCain grasped, and fell short. Nor has he been touting – Bill Clinton-style – a highly detailed plan for what he’ll do the moment he takes office.

The result is that while virtually all observers agree that he has benefited from the crisis, his allies and critics alike remain a bit hazy on what exactly he’d do if he takes office January 20, 2009.

. . .

Obama has often thrived in this campaign by talking in foggy terms about his plans, here and abroad. It frustrates critics – and some voters looking for clear indications of how he would lead – but also provides tremendous flexibility for adjusting positions now and in the White House if he wins. In fact, Obama has talked about the economy – only softly. Many of his key plans – for economic stimulus, for attending to the troubled housing market, and for financial regulations – are policy prescriptions he and other Democrats have been discussing about for months or more.

It is an odd approach, to say the least. Is it caution or stealth? Does he not not know what to do, or isn’t he saying? We don’t know who his Treasury Secretary might be or what type of recovery plan he might pursue. Is he really going to try to raise payroll and income taxes, albeit just on the “rich”? Again, we simply aren’t sure.

It is remarkable that in all the interviews and debates he really hasn’t been forced to answer the central question of the day: what’s he going to do about the financial meltdown and what would he do differently than what President George W. Bush has already tried? That, almost as much as the glaring bias, is a failure of the mainstream media and, specifically, each of the moderators. It is one thing to root, is is another not to inquire or demand candor.



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