The Washington Post digs in an finds interesting parallels:
Sen. Barack Obama offers himself as a post-partisan uniter who will solve the country’s problems by reaching across the aisle and beyond the framework of liberal and conservative labels he rejects as useless and outdated.
But as Obama heads into the final presidential primaries, Sen. John McCain and other Republicans have already started to brand him a standard-order left-winger, “a down-the-line liberal,” as McCain strategist Charles R. Black Jr. put it, in a long line of Democratic White House hopefuls.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign has also started slapping the L-word on Obama, warning that his appeal among moderate voters will diminish as they become more aware of liberal positions he took in the past, such as calling for single-payer health care and an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba. “The evidence is that the more [voters] have been learning about him, the more his coalition has been shrinking,” Clinton strategist Mark Penn said.
One of my persistent frustrations during the Clinton years was the almost pathological fear that administration seemed to have for anything that resembled core Democratic values, let alone liberalism. That Hillary’s campaign is adopting Republican talking points is disappointing, but we can hope it makes Obama a stronger and more effective candidate when he runs against John McCain (rather than next to him, as Hillary seems to be attempting).
Of course, Penn’s claim that the Obama coalition is shrinking makes no sense. He came into the race with less than 20% support, compared to Hillary’s entry in the mid-30s. He has built winning coalitions in more states, attracted a greater share of the popular vote and of the delegates. In polls, he appeals to more unaffiliated voters than Hillary or McCain. That’s what a winning coalition looks like. I expect Hillary could win also, and I know I’d vote for her. I have nothing good to say about the 28% of Clinton voters, or the 19% of Obama voters, who claim that they wouldn’t back the other candidate if he or she were the nominee. Grow the hell up.
That applies to Hillary, too. It’s time to stop adopting Republican attacks on Obama. Democrats want a Democratic president, and we want a nominee who can beat McCain. If Hillary wants to attract more voters, she needs to be more aggressive in attacking McCain, and spend less time praising him.