Amid the Obamamania, allow me to insert two contrarian thoughts. Both are by way of arguing that the change mantra will have to, er, change. And soon.
A first reason is that other politicians, particularly those holding office, are going to get uneasy about all this call for change. In Maryland, for instance, two members of Congress, one from each party, lost their seats in the Feb. 12 primary
, the first time that has happened in the state in 30 years.
It's an example of how the appetite for change can get out of control. And a harbinger of how politicians will be pressuring Obama to lay off.
Close to home, it could happen that Dino Rossi will become the local embodiment of Obama's message, pushing for change after 24 years of Democrats in the governor's mansion, calling for unspecified "new approaches" to big problems like transportation and education, and using his affable personality as a promise for bipartisan solutions. Two can play this game of change, and Obama is writing a script that is open-source.
The other reason for predicting a change in Obama's basic appeal is that it can only conceal for so long that his message is a downer, an invitation to swallow castor oil. To his credit, Obama is laying the groundwork for tackling some very big problems, so big that they can't be addressed without bipartisanship: withdrawal from Iraq, climate change, too much debt, universal health insurance, fixing Medicare and Social Security.
But of course, all these neglected issues involve a lot of pain, sacrifices, new taxes, public anger. Daniel Henninger, a conservative columnist for The Wall Streeet Journal
, detects a kind of grimness
underneath Obama's uplifting rhetoric:
Unease about the economy is real, but Sen. Obama is selling more than that. He is selling deep grievance over the structure of American society. That's the same message as John Edwards, or Dennis Kucinich for that matter. Hillary Clinton's mistake may have been to think this is 2008, not 1938, with the solution lying in leveraging votes in a Democratic Congress. Instead of Hillary's wonkish geniuses, Barack is selling the revolution – change "from the bottom up." ...
Whatever else, Barack Obama isn't talking sunshine in America. He's talking fast and furious. People not yet baptized into Obamamania may start to look past the dazzling theatrics to see a vision of the United States that is quite grim and could wear thin in the general election.
Oh, and did I mention the Seattle mayor's race in 2009?