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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'd thought I'd explicitly compared Obama to Reagan in this post on the morning of the Iowa caucus, but it turns out I merely referred obliquely to "the left's best chance for transformative political realignment in over a generation." But this is precisely what I've been talking about for the last month: what Obama (and to a much lesser extent Edwards) offer is the possibility of a political reconfiguation like the one that Reagan accomplished in 1980, only this time to the left. It can happen, but it can't happen with Hillary Clinton as our nominee, who is loathed by fully half the country and will be lucky if she's able to eke out a narrow victory in a three-way race.

I bring this up only because today Obama has finally made this case for his campaign directly:

(Here's the full video.)

Predictably, Clinton supporters are already falling over themselves in an effort to mischaracterize what he has said, in much the same way that people confuse the claim that a terrorist is brave with the assertion that a terrorist is morally good. Obama is saying here that Reagan radically altered the political landscape in this country in a way Clinton simply did not—and I don't any way in which that claim can possibly be debated. Obama supporters correctly see in Obama the chance for a similar swing back to the left—to not only reclaim the Reagan Democrats but create "Obama Republicans" from people who are not and will never be "Clinton Republicans"—and it is this singular opportunity that is at the core of my support for him.

I'm certain Americans are smart enough to see what Obama's saying here, despite what will surely be heroic efforts from the Clinton camp to muddy these waters.* I think it's a gutsy move, but one that will pay off.

By the way, he's just opened up a lead on Clinton in North Carolina, so that's a good sign...

* Note: I am not actually certain of this.