The Far Left
A few days ago, I said:
If anything, when someone adopts more conservative positions (see Doug Kendall and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, h/t Jeralyn) and frames that as being progressive, Chris needs to think about the impact of that framing on truly progressive positions - which will get re-defined as, um, "far left".
Right on cue, here's William Yardley of the New York Times discussing some criticisms of Sen. Obama's recent stances, such as on FISA:
Obama Supporters on the Far Left Cry Foul
Would be hilarious if it isn't abject nonsense.
Anyway, I was chatting with a friend recently who is an independent. This person - a Clinton voter - felt that there wasn't much separating Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain on many issues. The Los Angeles times article by Janet Hook, Peter Wallsten and Peter Nicholas, that Steve discussed this morning, only adds more fuel to these types of beliefs:
Obama, McCain agree on many once-divisive issues
Their similar stances on immigration, nuclear weapons, global warming and stem-cell research are evidence of a centrist shift in the political landscape.
This friend of mine is now leaning towards Sen. McCain, especially given the latter's position on taxes. I tried to offer some arguments to push my friend towards Sen. Obama but I'm not sure my arguments had much of an effect.
So, here's a suggestion to the Obama campaign: create a simple table on a single (printable) page, include about 4-5 major topics in the rows of the table and very succinctly summarize the true contrast between his positions and Sen. McCain's positions on each topic. Then, link to supporting information and documents in the footnotes. This single page would be very handy to distribute or share with those who are inclined to support Sen. McCain. The real danger right now is that Sen. McCain will position himself as offering something that isn't much different from Sen. Obama (or alternatively, as offering largely the same kind of "change" that Sen. Obama will bring) on many important areas. The contrast between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain has now become somewhat blurred on most topics, with likely two exceptions - choice and taxes. In these latter areas, the GOP will play out their usual spin to try to hold on to the GOP base and more affluent independents. When you couple this with the GOP's continued attempts to undermine Sen. Obama through veiled or not-so-veiled character attacks and play up McCain's so-called "experience", I fear that the race might turn into an uncomfortably close one in the Fall when it should really be a blowout year for Democrats.
P.S. While I agree with Max Bergmann that last week should have, in effect, ended Sen. McCain's presidential aspirations, I am not quite sure that is how it is going to play out.