" 'Change' is just a word without the strength and experience to make it happen. . . . I know some people think you have to choose between change and experience. Well, with me, you don't have to choose. . . . I have spent my whole life fighting for change. . . . I will bring my experience to the White House and begin to change our country starting on day one."
All well and good, until Clinton hedged her change argument to tell us what she was really thinking and promised to capitulate if elected president:
"From my time in the White House and in the Senate, I have learned that you bring change by working in the system established in our Constitution. You cannot pretend that the system doesn't exist."
Clinton's pledge: "You need to know when to stick to principles and fight, and know when to make principled compromises."
Can I please go back to ignoring this campaign now? Ahem. Change + Experience . . . Change + the System . . . Change + Compromises. All those plus signs add up to a big minus, erasing the "Change" from the equation. (One of the funnier comments I heard after that speech was that Clinton's general-election message will likely be: "Democrat + Republican: with me you don't have to choose!")
After all, everybody who lived through the first Clinton administration has the experience to remember what capitulation after the promise of change looks like.
A day later, at a campaign rally in Manchester, Obama rolled out his upgraded message with a direct challenge to Clinton's technocratic doctrine of system management:
". . . as bad as George Bush has been, it's going to take more than a change of parties in the White House to truly turn this country around. George Bush and Dick Cheney may have turned divisive, special-interest politics into an art form, but they didn't invent it. It was there before they got to Washington, and if you and I don't stand up and challenge it, it will be there long after they leave."
Citing "the conventional Washington thinking on foreign policy that led us to this tragic war in Iraq," (and reminding us again that his chief rival, Clinton, voted to authorize that war), Obama hammered:
"We need to turn the page. There are those who tout their experience working the system in Washington — but the problem is that the system in Washington isn't working for us and hasn't for a long time. Think about it. We've been talking about the health-care crisis in this country for decades. . . .
"I believe this election cannot be about who can play this game better. It has to be about who can put an end to the game-playing."
Obama's open contempt for "the problem . . . the system . . . this game . . . the game playing" and his call for "more than a change" places him squarely in the camp of the alienated American everywhere. But, as with challengers such as Hart, Jackson, Brown, Bradley, and Edwards before him, the Clinton juggernaut will roll over Obama, too, by outspending him.
Wait . . . scratch that.
Stop the presses: Obama will have more money to fight through the entire primary process?