Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In this year's presidential contest, we are once again seeing candidates punished for daring to tell the truth. The conventional wisdom holds that McCain lost Michigan largely because he stated that most of the automotive jobs that had left the state were never coming back, with Romney pouncing on those remarks without, of course, noting that McCain called for more job training and so forth in response.
Now we have Clinton taking Obama to task for daring to say this:
"The Republican approach I think has played itself out. I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10 or 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom."
Clinton accuses Obama of saying Republicans had "better ideas." That's clearly not what he said. But I don't think anyone paying attention to politics over the last 15 years can deny that Republicans and conservatives have brought more intellectual energy to the game, from the "Contract With America" and welfare reform through the crusades against judicial activism and the spate of educational ideas such as standardized testing, charter schools and vouchers.
Politics in Washington has been played on their turf. The Democrats have strictly played defense, looking to "preserve" Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment. One of the big problems Democrats have had, until the last couple of years, is that they were terrified of offering big ideas in the wake of the failure of Hillary Clinton's own universal health plan of 1993.
You can see why Clinton would rip into Obama for this. But it's really unfortunate that politicians who tell something resembling the truth are invariably criticized for lacking sound judgment.
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