How come Ross Douthat understands Barack Obama better than, let’s just say, Paul Krugman?
To understand the Right’s mounting disappointment with his candidacy it’s worth pointing out again that in his attempt to bring new voters into the Democratic tent, Obama’s rightward outreach is primarily stylistic rather than substantive. He’s making a bet that the country is already moving left, and that by taking an unusually respectful (by liberal standards) approach to the ideas and grievances that pushed an earlier generation to the right he can win many of them, and their children, back to the liberalism that once dominated American politics. As everyone from Rod Dreher to Mickey Kaus to Steve Sailer have noted, his practical concessions to present-day conservatism are vanishingly small. But he isn’t trying to win over the gang at the Corner, or movement conservatives more generally; he’s trying to win over those voters (and writers) who sometimes think that conservatives make a lot of sense, but whose ideological commitments are ultimately malleable. So of course if you’re an ideological conservative you don’t like what you hear from him; he’s talking to everybody else, but not to you.
At some point, you have to start doubting either the good faith of the Hillaryites who claim that Obama would sell us out to the Right, or their literacy.