It’s hard to deny that Barack Obama, the Presidential campaign, hasn’t been as Barack Obama, the orator.
But I’m surprised that Kevin Drum finds Obama’s domestic policy proposals “fairly cautious and mainstream.” His energy proposal, to take the strongest instance, involves a permit-auction system, which is functionally identical to a carbon tax. That’s more radical than Al Gore is prepared to be, at least out loud. Not only does it raise the price of (fossil-fuel) energy, it does so without providing any giveaways to big corporate donors, by contrast with any “cap-and-trade” system in which the permits are given away instead of being auctioned.
More than that, Obama isn’t making a secret of the fact that he’s proposing higher energy prices as a way of forcing conservation. You could reasonably criticize his plan on political grounds, as too likely to offend the SUV-drivers, but the one thing it isn’t is “cautious.”