Here is David Brooks on what the Democrats need to do. I take us to the end of his column, where he suggests they let Obama be who he is and lead as he is meant to do.
At the core, Obama’s best message has always been this: He is unconnected with the tired old fights that constrict our politics. He is in tune with a new era. He has very little experience but a lot of potential. He does not have big achievements, but he is authentically the sort of person who emerges in a multicultural, globalized age. He is therefore naturally in step with the problems that will confront us in the years to come.
So as I’m trying to measure the effectiveness of this convention, I’ll be jotting down a little minus mark every time I hear a theme that muddies that image. I’ll jot down a minus every time I hear the old class conflict, and the old culture war themes. I’ll jot down a minus when I see the old Bush obsession rearing its head, which is not part of his natural persona. I’ll write a demerit every time I hear the rich played off against the poor, undercutting Obama’s One America dream.
I’ll put a plus down every time a speaker says that McCain is a good man who happens to be out of step with the times. I’ll put a plus down every time a speaker says that a multipolar world demands a softer international touch. I’ll put a plus down when a speaker says the old free market policies worked fine in the 20th century, but no longer seem to be working today. These are arguments that reinforce Obama’s identity as a 21st-century man.
And I have to say, during the first night of the convention, the pluses far outweighed the minuses. In spirit, the night extended Obama’s 2004 convention speech. The overarching theme was intrinsic to the man, unity instead of division, something new instead of conflicts that are old. His sister hit this theme forcefully. Jesse Jackson Jr. made the generational-change argument explicitly, paying tribute to the fights of the past while describing the more subtle challenges of the present. Michelle Obama was short on biographical details, but long on the idealism, which is at the heart of Obama’s appeal.
Obama may yet recover his core focus. Now he has to preserve it against his most terrifying foes: the “experts” in his own party.