Sorry comrades — I’ve been working on some longer projects, and am wracked with guilt about not blogging as there are a lot of things I want to tackle. I want the excuse to drill down into the new news from Iraq, so I’ll have to write something more substantial on the subject.
Just saw the speech, and I have to say: I found it frustrating to watch. And I found the solutions on offer deeply unpersuasive — an industrial policy that would create un-outsourcable jobs, subsidized fuel-efficient cars for every American, lower taxes for 95 percent of Americans plus tax breaks for approved entrepreneurs (and a system that would, as Goolsbee and Furman note, generate less revenue than the Bush tax code), attacking McCain for (similarly) raising taxes on some (the rich) and lowering taxes for others (the poor) to increase access to healthcare in revenue neutral fashion, etc. “I will never tax your benefits!” Well, I mean, there’s a consensus that gold-plated plans should be taxed.
I found the rhetoric on foreign policy misleading to the point where I was baffled by the reversals. But of course relatively few of us were paying attention during Obama’s initial reaction to the Georgia crisis, or during the long history of Obama’s statements regarding Iran. Biden has been the great champion of ISAF in Afghanistan, which has failed at the structural level.
The sad truth is that next week in the Twin Cities might be just as bad. I feel genuinely sad and worried, as I want Obama to be strong and wise and shrewd — not just as a politician, as he is a masterful politician, but as a leader. I realize that I sound like a bozo. But I recognize that there’s an excellent chance he’ll be the next president. Maybe this is all typical campaign flim-flam. But I don’t think it is.
As for McCain: Republicans have tried to turn Obama’s identity into a liability. They’ve tried to turn Michelle into a liability. Well, look, Cindy is an heiress and McCain really has led an unusual life. McCain’s identity — as someone who spent 22 years in the Navy, not just as a former POW — is a strength. But it’s also a liability. And rest assured, the Democrats are quite comfortable playing identity politics, which is fair enough: identity matters, as it offers insight into character and experience and how one will approach the world.