For instance, if he is accused of being in bed with the teachers union, he will point out (even while still in his pajamas after a motel night with the union, metaphorically speaking) that he once told a Milwaukee newspaper he was open to considering vouchers -- even though he is against them -- if it would be good for the kids. Make no mistake, this guy isn't only good with inspirational rhetoric; when it comes to policy slipperiness, he makes Bill Clinton look slow-witted and honest.
The overall lesson to take away from the Democratic primary season so far is that big charges against Obama backfire on the accuser. Beware of Hillary's ill-fated decision to play Sonny Liston to Obama's Cassius Clay. (Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali after the first Liston fight.) In that fight, Sonny Liston threw slow, heavy roundhouse punches, which Clay easily slipped while delivering a flurry of combinations at the off-balance Liston. Sound familiar?
When Liston refused to respond to the seventh-round bell (claiming a sore shoulder), Clay stood up, shouting, "I am the greatest! I shook up the world!" Whether Hillary refuses to compete after the March 4 bell (perhaps on the claim of a sore head), we don't know yet. But we can be sure that Obama is too disciplined to scream to the world that he is "the greatest." Although it would not surprise any of us if he thinks to himself as he looks into the mirror while shaving: "Am I good or what!"
If Obama can be defeated, it will not be with a meat cleaver but with a surgeon's scalpel. This is difficult in a national campaign in which the public, almost of necessity, must be communicated with by slogans. But Obama is the master responding to blustery charges with wry, dry irony.
The Republicans must systematically make a hundred tightly argued, irrefutable critiques of very specific examples of Obama's policy being wrong for at least 60 percent of America.
America may be going through one of our episodic style shifts. In 1932, FDR's conversational style trumped Hoover's old oratory. In 1960, JFK's coolness and wit caught the emerging post-World War II sophistication of our culture. Twenty years later America, tired of sophisticated cynicism, was ready to return to Reagan's old-fashioned sentiments and values.
Obama is tapping into a curious alchemy of youthful idealism tempered by Internet edginess. Republicans must communicate their values and policies through that prism, or they will not communicate at all.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.