The Economist: The Senator and the Policy Test
Obama has made the figurative cover of the best "newspaper" available. The subject of Lexington this week is the uphill battle that Sen. Obama must fight to establish himself as a credible figure on matters of policy like the creation of a universal health care apparatus, military preparations for the January after next, and how he will address the problems of unprotected borders and exploited immigrant labor.
I think he will certainly have a struggle to match up to well packaged opponents who have honed their skills in this area, namely telling people how much they know about everything.
This piece makes two good observations about the situation in which Obama finds himself and about how he can navigate the terrain.
After six years of George Bush, the country is in no mood to elect another fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants lightweight. But command of policy is not a make-or-break issue. Mr Obama almost certainly has the wherewithal to put together policies on a wide range of subjects.
Part of the difference between the Senator and then-Gov. Bush is that Obama has surrounded himself with policy advisers who are neither entrenched partisans (Sen. Clinton recruited most of those early on) nor Washington ideologues. He has brought in many fresh young experts like Ian Solomon, transformed from an enterprising consultant and legal scholar into a legislative architect, and Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power to advise on foreign policy.
Mr Obama has already shown that he possesses something more important than expertise—judgment.
This point is significant, because the main reason that so many in middle America have come around to the realization that the current administration is on the wrong course is from repeated demonstrations of poor judgment. That is why the votes for the authorization force in Iraq will not go away for Clinton and Edwards.
Obama ought to continue to make the distinctions he has in this area clear, but also claim some ground of his own. There is at least one area wherein he has all the other democratic challengers beat hands down. The Senator should use the opportunity afforded by the embattled AG to remind everybody that he is a genuine expert on Constitutional law. His expertise on the Constitution, as well as his focus on government ethics, set Senator Obama apart. He would do well to present that fact clearly.