Day By Day

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Moderating the Messiah's Message

Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting observation on the transformation that has been taking place in the campaign of the Young Messiah who came to prominence promising radical but unspecific change. He writes:

Obama has been evolving toward McCain’s positions rather than vice versa. Take Iran. At first, to Obama it posed little threat; now it is a danger large indeed—as McCain insisted all along. Obama used to ridicule the surge and claim it had failed; now he assures us that it has worked beyond our wildest dreams. Obama was opposed to oil drilling, and was silent about coal and nuclear power. Now suddenly he has dropped mention of inflating our tires, and is referring to oil, gas, coal, and nuclear production as legitimate means to wean ourselves off foreign oil. In political terms, all this is wise, since voters ultimately want to be reassured about centrist positions rather than worry over consistency. As Anbar quiets and we leave, expect him to suggest his pressure and criticism were responsible for the Iraqi government’s turn-about.

On matters like abortion, capital punishment, gun control and FISA, Obama again moves closer to McCain rather than vice versa. Apparently, he realizes that no northern Democratic liberal has been elected since JFK, nearly a half-century ago—an amazing fact in and of itself—and so has to follow the Bill Clinton centrist route, which can be accomplished by a variety of measures.

Thus Biden is playing up his distant Scranton childhood; Michelle is muzzled; Ayers, Pfleger, and Wright are no doubt somewhere in suspended animation; and Obama has suddenly dropped all talk of reparations, oppression studies, America’s tragic history, typical white people, etc. And when he does start in on his preemptory “they’re going after me” stump whine, he doesn’t mention race, only his name and the faux charge of being a Muslim. Again, if he continues, in another month he won’t sound like a Pelosi liberal anymore, and perhaps eat into the working class white voting block.

Read the whole thing here.

That is the genius of the American electoral system -- it enforces moderation on major party candidates, no matter how radical their initial promise. Ideologues rail against it, academics denounce it, and managers find it endlessly frustrating, but the messy processes of mass democracy have served the nation pretty well for more than a century and a half.