Jonah Goldberg
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Obama may be moving rapidly to the center, embracing faith-based initiatives and backpedaling on Iraq and NAFTA, but he is not "triangulating." He has not picked any serious fights with his base, no doubt in part because he doesn't think he has to.

This is a potential opening for McCain to exploit. Obama's thin record offers little ammo for McCain. But the Democrats who would truly run the country if they controlled both the Congress and the White House do indeed have a long record.

The McCain campaign tried to label Obama "Dr. No" (no to drilling, no to nuclear, no to this or that) to little effect. The real issue is that Obama would be a Dr. Yes for the left-wing base of the Democratic Party, some of whom, for example, have recently called for nationalizing the oil industry. Would Obama say "no" to Maxine Waters? To Nancy Pelosi? Or would he respond to their entreaties with his trademark slogan (borrowed from Cesar Chavez no less): "Yes We Can!"

Going after Obama as the front man for the Democratic peanut gallery might divide the Democrats. It would certainly put issues in play that Obama has scrupulously kept out of the debate, from partial birth abortion to racial quotas. Obama may spin a lot of nuance when describing his own position, but the positions of his political patrons are far less malleable.

Such a strategy might also let some voters off the hook by putting the blame for voting against Obama on Congress and not on the candidate himself.

Last, by attacking Obama as, at minimum, a would-be rubber stamp of a Democratic Congress - which has an even lower approval rating than President Bush - the McCain campaign could also distance itself from the Bush years. Who can deny that many of the GOP's manifest blunders stemmed from unified Republican control of the government?

Meanwhile, John McCain, the proven bipartisan legislator, could run as what he is: the stodgy grown-up in the race who knows how to say no to Democrats and, when he thinks it's warranted, "Yes we can."

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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