Victor Davis Hanson

Yet forcing the affluent to pay even more won't necessarily reduce annual deficits of the last eight years or pay down the huge national debt -- not when Obama promises more vast entitlements in health care, education and housing and current aggregate federal revenues were increased by past tax cuts that spurred economic growth.

Sen. Obama promises a new style of politics that is issue-based, rather than attack-dog. But so far, he has campaigned in conventional fashion: He's tough on his opponents and as prone to overstatements and mischaracterizations as any other candidate.

The take-no-prisoners Moveon.org, which gave us the "General Betray Us" ads, is now an ally running third-party hit pieces on John McCain. Such outside help is customary in an election but seems inconsistent with Obama's disavowals of the hardball politics of the past.

Sen. Obama has promised a new dialogue on race and tolerance. His own impressive personal journey may make that possible. But his 20-year intimate relationship with the racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright suggests that for years he was heavily invested in the rather tired and predictable identity politics of grievance rather than a vocal advocate of novel racial transcendence.

Overall, Obama's announced policies are sounding pretty much the same old, same old once promised by candidates like George McGovern, Mike Dukakis, Walter Mondale, Al Gore and John Kerry. Of course, a return to the standard big-government nostrums of the past may well be what the angry voters want after 20 years of the Bushes and Clintons. But it is not a novel agenda, much less championed by a post-racial, post-political emissary.

So what are the Democrats thinking? That a mesmerizing, path-breaking African-American candidate -- coupled with Bush exhaustion -- will overcome past public skepticism of Northern presidential Democratic candidates, traditional liberal agendas and Obama's own relative lack of experience.

In other words, we should count on hope rather than change.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.


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