Before reeling off a list of ways he is going to “change” America, Barack Obama last night said this about John McCain:
The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans that once bothered Senator McCain’s conscience are now his only economic policy. The Bush health care plan that only helps those who are already healthy and wealthy is now John McCain’s answer to the 47 million Americans without insurance and the millions more who can’t pay their medical bills. The Bush Iraq policy that asks everything of our troops and nothing of Iraqi politicians is John McCain’s policy too, and so is the fear of tough and aggressive diplomacy that has left this country more isolated and less secure than at any time in recent history. The lobbyists who ruled George Bush’s Washington are now running John McCain’s campaign, and they actually had the nerve to say that the American people won’t care about this. Talk about out of touch!
That is the real and very difficult task McCain faces: explaining why this is not the case and why his career, record and–most importantly–his plans for the future will not make his presidency a third Bush term. It is ironic, of course, that the Republican who has been at loggerheads the most with the Bush administration should now be saddled with its legacy. But such is the nature of party politics. That is why the urgency is great for McCain to present, as Yuval Levin suggested, a real agenda that doesn’t look and sound like the last seven years.
I agree with Bob Herbert that this election should be about big and serious things. Unless McCain has big and serious ideas and successfully explains why Obama’s are unwise and even dangerous, he will lose. However admirable his biography, it simply won’t be enough to counter the anti-Bush and anti-Republican sentiment Obama has so successfully tapped into. Last night we got a glimpse of just how effective Obama can be in doing just that.