Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Sunday, January 18, 2009

O Positive

Lots of stories recently about Obama's big popularity boost on his way into office, offering the possibility of an overwhelming public mandate for his policies. Bush's inelegant exit, the pathetic bailout beg (for a little "legacy" sympathy) that would not end, surely helps. But one angle I haven't seen mentioned is that much of this good will probably derives from the cleanness of his campaign. We hear a lot about the benefits of negative campaigning, especially in the decade of Rove, but nasty campaigns produce bitterness and enmity that diminish one's standing to govern. Don't get me wrong--this was a rough campaign year in many ways. However, most of the mud came from Obama's opponents: Clinton, McCain, Palin. Clinton's now co-opted, McCain has sounded once more like the one sane and gracious man in his party, and Palin. . . well, the more she bring the crazy, the better our man looks.

John Kerry took a beating for not going more negative on Bush in 2004, and many Dems spent the better part of this year bemoaning "Obambi's" brassless knuckle approach. In retrospect, staying above the fray looks like a gutsy gamble that paid off big. Given what was at stake, it took some stones to put down the stick.


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