September 27, 2008


Marathon becomes brawl (John P. Avlon, September 27, 2008, Politico)

In boxing, like politics, the candidate who controls the center of the ring — and forces his opponent to fight with his back against the ropes — is best positioned to win.

John McCain started fighting for the center in the first moments of the debate — using his opening statement to offer best wishes to the newly hospitalized Ted Kennedy (usually the subject of Republican attacks, not accolades), and then repeatedly stressing his decades-long bipartisan record to distance himself from the Bush administration.

The only effective canned line of the debate also reflected this centrist theme ("It's hard to reach across the aisle from that far on the left") — while also taking a clean shot at Obama's liberal Senate voting record.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, might be the first candidate in modern political history to run from the center in the party primary and then move to the left in the general election.

Obama's rise as the inspirational post-partisan candidate ("there are no red states, there are no blue states, there is only the United States") was what kept him from being labeled the left's anti-Iraq protest candidate. He won in places like Iowa because he was the non-polarizing alternative to Hillary Clinton's establishment candidacy.

But since winning the nomination, Obama has spent more time trying to grow the Democratic Party rolls from the ground up, rather than trying to win independent and centrist voters over to a larger common cause. This was evident again in last night's debate.

Elections are won by the candidate who connects with moderates and the middle class.

You tend not to get exposed in the Democratic primaries as a Leftist out of the mainstream--though by the end of this year's even Hillary and Bill were revealing the Unicorn Rider--which leaves the same dynamic in the Fall almost every time. Other than when the Democrats nominate Southern religious governors, the GOP just has to explain to the electorate that the other party's nominee is a stock Northern liberal and the rest follows.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2008 6:02 PM
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