1. I will be speaking at BAYLOR (in beautiful Waco) next Tuesday. At NOON on Locke an at 7 on Stoicism and Christianity in America (inspired by Walker Percy, Willian Alexander Percy, and Tocqueville). See the ISI or Baylor websites for further details.
2. The ghost of a chance for Hillary’s comeback depends on her actually winning in Wisconsin on Tuesday. The polls show her just outside the margin of error. This fact is so obvious to me that I wonder why she hasn’t poured everything into that state and flattered its residents even more on the significance of their decision.
3. If we follow the experts in saying that candidates can be judged on character, competence, and ideology, we see that Senators Obama and McCain are strong in the same category--character. Obama’s strength comes from his visionary and, some say, ennobling words, and McCain’s from his noble deeds (which he doesn’t hesitate to call to our attention).
4. They both score low on competence, insofar as neither really has a record of executive accomplishment. Obama is just inexperienced and untested, and a lot of his planet-saving, quasi-messianic talk should remind us that he often seems pretty clueless on what he’d actually be able to do as president. McCain was for the surge, but he’s not really been carrying it out, and everyone knows his practical judgment is questionable.
5. When you listen carefully, Obama is very clear on ideology. He’s not hiding the fact that he’s the most liberal of the senators. And so any Republican would stand to gain by waging an ideological campaign against him--on taxes, judges, immigration, foreign policy, political correctness, a national health care bureaucracy, and so forth. McCain’s perceived ideological moderation might be viewed as a strength, but it’s actually more like incoherence. He’s to the far right, so to speak, when it comes to budget cutting, surges, and maybe even bombing Iran, and on these issues the conservative position (although it might be right) is not particularly popular. And his flip-flopping when it comes to taxes, immigration, and judges might make it hard for him to bring the ideological attack on against Obama. Mac’s main job is to work on this ideological thing, because that’s where Barack is weakest. He needs to turn incoherence into moderation, and genuinely moderately conservative policies might well be good enough to energize "the base" against a liberal extremist. He needs really to believe that the Bush’s best domestic accomplishments were the pro-family tax cuts and two really smart and reliably conservative justices.