So Obama goes on TV tonight (or is it tomorrow??) with his half-hour broadcast where he’ll try to close the deal. What will we see? The "audacious" Obama of last year, or the relatively cautious Obama we’ve seen since mid-summer? As several observers have commented, Obama decided to become relatively boring as a way of making himself into Bill Cosby/Dr. Huxtable. Occasionally the mask has slipped, when surprised by Joe the Plumber. (Obama doesn’t have to worry about such pesky questions from Joe the Reporter.)
The cautious approach would counsel for a bland, soothing broadcast. I’m betting, however, that Obama goes for it. I think he’ll try to strike bold notes, maybe even making a broad partisan appeal for a strong Democratic Congress to enable him to implement his mandate, rather than repeating his "reach across the aisle" sentiments. This is something Reagan didn’t do in 1984, much to the chagrin of many conservatives. It would be a high risk strategy, as it could easily backfire and cause some voters to split their ticket as a hedge against Obama’s unknown inclinations. It would be a sign to me that he really does intend to govern as far to the left as possible. With a big enough majority, he doesn’t have to reach across the aisle.