I have been a frequent critic of Senator Obama's messaging during this campaign. It seems to me that the fundamental premise of Obama's campaign -- that he somehow has a unique ability to bring this country together -- is flat out untrue. On withdrawal from Iraq, FISA reauthorization, and expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Senator Obama was not able to bring a single Republican Senator over to our side (on each vote a few Republicans did vote on the Democratic side but they would have done so whether Obama was in the Senate or not). So it seems disingenuous for Senator Obama to make this claim the centerpiece of his campaign, when in fact, there is no evidence that his claim is true. And it frustrates me that traditional media pundits and many Democratic voters take Senator Obama's claim at face value because they seem to like the sound of it, without checking whether it has any resemblance to reality.
But there's a bit of a puzzle here because I like Senator Obama. He seems like a decent guy and not the sort of fellow who would create a narrative he knows isn't true just to get elected.
So then it hit me, Senator Obama isn't talking to Republican officeholders. He's talking directly to Republican voters. That's the thing that makes the statement true. Senator Obama has a unique ability to attract Republican voters and independents to vote for him. When he says 'let's bring the country together again' -- he's asking Republican voters to abandon their party and its nominee. Of course Obama can't just say to Republicans -- 'don't vote Republican, your party has a history of screwing you' (which is what Howard Dean said in 2004, and it was true, but we all know how that turned out). Instead he has to say, 'there's too much partisanship, join me and I'll bring the country together again' (because you just abandoned the party that was screwing you and the rest of America). I hope that's really what's going on here. If it's true, it's incredibly clever.