Last month, after seeing the "Duel at Dartmouth," I openly wondered whether Senator Obama was still campaigning for the top spot, given his lackluster performance. A story in Sunday's New York Times would have us believe that business is about to pick up, with a headline of "Obama Promises a Forceful Stand Against Clinton." He summarizes his frustrations as:
“I don’t think people know what her agenda exactly is,” Mr. Obama continued, citing Social Security, Iraq and Iran as issues on which he said she had not been fully forthcoming. “Now it’s been very deft politically, but one of the things that I firmly believe is that we’ve got to be clear with the American people right now about the important choices that we’re going to need to make in order to get a mandate for change, not to try to obfuscate and avoid being a target in the general election and then find yourself governing without any support for any bold propositions.”With regard to the New Hampshire primary, I keep thinking to myself, "Why would we want a Clinton when we can have an Obama?" I conjecture that the White House and Cabinet department staffing would be almost the same or better with Obama--who would work for her but not for him if asked? So all of the major policy processes would be very similar. And with Obama, there's just no extra baggage from the 1990s (or earlier) to get in the way of the political negotiations that have to happen to get deals done on key issues like Iraq and entitlement reform.
In Obama's words:
“There is a legacy that is both an enormous advantage to her in a Democratic primary, but also a disadvantage to her in a general election,” he said. “I don’t think anybody would claim that Senator Clinton is going to inspire a horde of new voters,” he said. “I don’t think it’s realistic that she is going to get a whole bunch of Republicans to think differently about her.”It's pretty clear that I'm one of those Republicans who will not think differently about her and who is unlikely to vote for her under any reasonable circumstances. I haven't come to that conclusion for Senator Obama and some other Democrats. Senator Obama is at once wonkish, charismatic, and unencumbered by years in Washington. He should put those characteristics on display use them every time he speaks, and particularly when he is on stage with Senator Clinton.
If he can't put it all together, he will likely be the one "inspir[ing] a horde of new voters," from the #2 spot on the ticket.