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America Forward, Not Back

Jonathan Cohn discusses one reason why Obama's weakness versus Clinton won't be as bad versus McCain.


Obama wants to invest heavily in better schools and public infrastructure? McCain says it will cost too much money. Obama wants to make sure every American has health insurance? McCain says it's socialized medicine. Obama wants to make free trade more humane? McCain's says no, no, no--that's messing with the free market.

Even Obama's calls to change political discourse for the better--the most familiar and, at times, most empty part of his pitch--play into this dynamic. When Obama says he wants to end the politics of division, McCain dismisses it as just a slogan.

Whether you think Obama is right or wrong about these ideas--and, yes, I mostly think he's right--he's setting up the fall as a debate between ambition and timidty, between hope and cynicism, between optimism and pessimism.

Clinton's argument that occasionally worked versus Obama was that not only did she want change but that she has and would do a better job of making that change. McCain's argument versus Obama will be against the very idea of making the change itself.

The people want blue. Obama is selling light blue, Clinton was selling dark blue but John McCain is selling puke green with neon pink polka dots.