Rich Lowry

Her obsession with policy highlighted Obama's fallacy of missing concreteness. Voters might like change and unity, but they probably like their jobs and wages more. Hillary addressed bread and butter concerns in the closing days while Obama's Olympian oratory said, in effect, "Let them eat the audacity of hope."

During the summer, it seemed Hillary would be able to coast to the nomination on inevitability, triangulating all the way. After Iowa, it seemed Obama could sweep to the nomination on hope, soaring ever upward. Hillary retooled by talking more of change and emphasizing her liberal positions, and now Obama must as well.

He has money and organization, is a genuinely gifted speaker and is less polarizing than Hillary. The challenge is whether he can mix enough of the mundane into his message to win over the lunch buckets, without losing the excitement of upscale liberals. Ultimately, the problem for Obama is that he is promising something that is impossible -- a harmonic convergence of the country around what, at bottom, is an utterly conventional liberal policy agenda.

For now, voters have hit "pause" on the Obama movement. They are going to examine their choices more closely before sweeping a not-yet-one-term senator with no real substantive accomplishments into the White House on a wave of emotion. For those who expect a certain sobriety of the American electorate, it's cause for hope.


Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
 
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