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There we go again

By David

The Washington Post beat me to the punch today on something I’ve been kicking around with for a while: Why is it that in this year of unconventional candidates do we have a presidential election that is so, well, conventional?

McCain the maverick and Obama the post-partisan promised us something different — if not traveling on the same plane to town halls, then at least something other than the “Republicans are reckless Neanderthals, Democrats are effete wusses” meme we’ve been getting since at least 2000, as Democrats tack ferociously to the center and GOPers go off on God, guns and gays.

The Post piece focuses mostly on the back-and-forth, charge-matched by countercharge:

Since Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination a few weeks ago, he and McCain have served up a series of indignant exchanges over foreign policy, terrorism, the economy, energy policy and campaign money. Their aides have gone farther, with snarling conference call putdowns and taunting e-mails flowing constantly out of the Chicago and Crystal City headquarters.

McCain has given a series of policy speeches and Obama is beginning to do the same. Whatever substance they may contain has been buried in negative counterattacks from the opposing camp, designed to turn ideas into stereotypes and candidates into caricatures. In the hands of Obama's advisers, McCain is nothing more than the third coming of President Bush. To McCain's staff, Obama is merely a liberal, naive, arrogant extension of what Democrats have been offering for years.

(continued) Well put. Obama talks a lot about the “same old Washington games,” which I think we are supposed to understand as the photo-opped phoniness and zero sum game of campaign season.

He’s hemmed in a little bit on his promises of a new kind of politics by fears of a Republican attack machine a la 2004 and concerns among fellow Democrats that he doesn’t have the stomach for the hand-to-hand combat of campaigns, concerns that he dispelling with rather quickly.

McCain seems unable to regain the maverick mantle because he wore it so well eight years ago that he pissed off much of the base, and now has to prove his party bonafides.

But beyond the politics, even the policies have taken on a traditional hue. McCain is for off-shore oil drilling, tax cuts and torture. Obama is for a “smarter” war on terrors (kind of like John Kerry’smore sensitive war on terror,” only, you know, smarter) alternative energies, and upper income tax hikes, along with some predicable rightwards leans (on telecom immunity, for example.)

McCain clearly thinks that the Rovian coalition still exists. Obama seems be banking on the fact that the Democrats are running so strong right now that it would be foolish to start freelancing.

Still, after a crazy exciting primary season, this turn of events is disappointing, if not downright dull.

Tags: david freedlander

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