If Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, conservatives should resist two temptations already on display in our responses to his candidacy. The first is the temptation to believe that just because Obama is not as corrupt and personally offensive as the Clintons, his impact on our politics would be benign. If he won the general election, his impact would be anything but. Obama is to the left of the Clintons and has the potential to popularize a resurgent liberalism that Hillary is more likely to discredit.
The second temptation is to assume that once people discover Obama is really an inexperienced liberal, the scales will fall from the electorate’s eyes and John McCain will march to victory. Obama is certainly beatable, but this hope is wildly implausible. Phil has already mentioned the recent elections in which voters have preferred change to experience. Attacks highlighting Obama’s liberalism, if done wrong, can play into Obama’s hands by making the attacker seem overly partisan. Liberalism itself is more popular than it was in 1988 or even 2004. And McCain is an imperfect vehicle for liberal-baiting, to put it mildly.
Conservatives are going to have to do better than either joining in on the Obama swooning or deciding that Obama’s appeal is imaginary.
MORE: No, I don’t think this is going to do it either.