But Will It Matter
The question is, will it matter? Here in Massachusetts, Deval Patrick ran in a three-way Democratic primary as an unreconstructed Lefty, openingly calling for more government spending, more leniency towards criminals, higher energy costs to home and business owners, etc. And guess what--nobody cared. He beat an experienced, moderate sitting Attorney General and a well-known, wonky liberal multi-millionaire with no problem.
This is going to be an old-fashioned debate on spending, and here thedivide will be of Grand Canyon proportions. Democrats have presented themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility of late, a message that contrasted well with spendthrift Republicans in the 2006 elections. The Democratic presidential candidates will struggle to make that case, given both are inching toward the $900-billion-in-proposed-new-spending mark.
Mr. Obama's wish list for just one term? Some $260 billion over four years for health care. Another $60 billion for an energy plan. A further $340 billion for his tax plan. A $14 billion national service plan. A $72 billion education package. Also, $25 billion in
foreign assistance funding, $2 billion for Iraqi refugees and $1.5 billion for paid-leave systems. (I surely forgot some.) Mr. Obama says he'll pay for these treasures by stopping the Iraq war and taxing the rich. But both Democrats have already spent the tax hikes several times over, and even a Ph.D. would struggle with this math.
Why? Because Gov. Patrick is aided by the same psychology that is boosting Sen. Obama. Call it the "Reverse E.F. Hutton Syndrome." Remember the ads, "When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen?" Well, when Deval "Together We Can" Patrick and Barack "Yes, We Can" Obama talk, nobody can hear a word they're saying.
People feel them. They cheer them. Women even (literally) swoon over them. But nobody is paying even a tiny bit of attention to what they're actually saying.
Which presents an astonishingly difficult challenge to the McCain campaign, should the two face off in November: How do you defeat a candidate, when nobody cares what he's actually going to do as president?
Nobody--I mean NOBODY--is voting for Sen. Obama because of his policies or plans. Obamas's voters are guilty white people and disaffected black people who will feel so, so good having cast that vote for a black president.
After that? They don't care. Can John McCain, or anybody else for that matter, make them?