It took all of a week for the media to decide that the shiny had worn off, and that both candidates were miserable failures at exciting their hearts and minds.
Robert Samuelson takes it one step further, and decides that the real story of the general election...is the same story the media's already been telling for the past several years. Exciting!
Aside from ambition—hardly unique among presidential candidates—I cannot detect powerful convictions in Obama. He seems merely expedient in peddling his convenient conflicts. He strikes me as a super-successful graduate student: the brightest, quickest, most articulate guy in the seminar. In his career, he has advanced mainly by talking and writing—not doing—and may harbor a delusion common to the well-educated: that he can argue and explain his way around any problem.
He can't possibly stand for anything, because he's too smart to stand for something! Meanwhile, if you guessed that he's going to launch the reverse, but still somehow parallel argument against McCain, you probably opened up the op-ed section of a major newspaper sometime in the past 20 years. But not too often, because you'll become an egghead Obaman, and I'm pretty sure that means you can't love your kids.
By contrast, no one can claim that McCain lacks convictions. He has often defied Republican Party orthodoxy, and his credentials to lead a centrist coalition are stronger than Obama's. According to Politico, he sided with his party only 83 percent of the time from 2005 to 2007. Even in this election year, he has taken unpopular positions. Note his criticism of farm subsidies, which won't help him in the Midwest. The trouble with McCain is that he often mistakes stubbornness for principle.
Damn, I'm good.
The odd thing is that McCain's not particularly stubborn. He's got a remarkable capacity to turn on a dime when it benefits him. He's just really, really angry a lot - but he can be angry at Democrats and Republicans based on who pisses him off, which makes for more interesting coverage, and therefore, a better human being.