Obama's the move to the center continues with his disavowal of Wes Clark's sensible comment that getting shot down and spending years as a POW does not make you a foreign policy expert.
I think that the Obama campaign is very aware of the sixties/seventies baggage that the Democrats carry, and it is trying as hard as it can to throw it off the train. I think that's something that the Democrats have to do if they are going to win back the confidence of the center, but again you have to question the tactics. I think there is a reactive and proactive way to do this, and the tactics used in the last couple of weeks indicate that they are taking the reactive approach, which may not lose them the election, but I think it makes them look passive and weak. Show some toughness, for crying out loud. Show you can throw a punch so long as it's a fair punch.
Clark was doing exactly what needs to be done--to go on the offensive, keep the McCain campaign on its heels, and take away McCain's only strength--the aura of being the wise old man on national security issues because of his war record. To challenge that image is not swiftboating; it's not taking anything away from McCain's honorable service. It's just making a perfectly obvious point: being a POW doesn't affect policy judgment one way or the other. McCain's positions on the Iraq War, his "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" remarks, his confusion and ignorance about the real situation in the Middle East are far more relevant indicators of his policy expertise and judgment. And if the media isn't bright enough to understand that, great--keep it explaining it. The longer it stays in the news, the better it is in undermining this so-called McCain strength. I'm so sick of Dems backing down from a legitimate fight.
The Obama campaign now seems to want to play it safe. It is playing not to lose rather than playing to win. It's dancing around and ducking punches rather than throwing its own. I think this is a dangerous strategy precisely because it surrenders the initiative to the opponent, and makes the opponent look stronger and more admirable than he is, which is precisely what the Dems can't afford to do. I had thought from the way the campaign handled the primaries that finally we were going to have a Dem candidate that understood how this worked. Maybe not.
A more proactive approach would involve a general strategy of going on offense, sticking to principle, ridiculing the silly-season attacks of the Right, and showing initiative. The patriotism speech he gave yesterday was good, but even so, it's main function was prophylactic--to blunt the attacks he knows are going to come concerning his and his wife's patriotism. They're still going to come.
Bottom line: The country is sick of the Republicans and they want the Dem candidate to stand up and show some backbone and leadership, not just play it safe. Playing it safe is not playing it smart.