The Corner

Obama: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Under pressure from Democrats who believe that the Obama campaign has lost its edge, campaign manager David Plouffe has just sent out a new “get tough” memo, promising a more aggressive campaign in the last 54 days. “Today is the first day of the rest of the campaign,” Plouffe promises, saying that Joe Biden will be a big part of the effort:

In recent weeks, John McCain has shown that he is willing to go into the gutter to win this election. His campaign has become nothing but a series of smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract from the issues that matter to the American people. But as Barack Obama said earlier this week “enough is enough.” This election is too important and the challenges too big to spend the next 54 days talking about trivial non-issues…

We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain’s attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people. We will not allow John McCain and his band of Karl Rove disciples to make this big election about small things.

Senator Biden will be integral to that effort, both in pushing back on the lies that we’ll continue to see from our opponents, and in keeping the debate focused on delivering for everyday Americans. After all, that’s what Joe Biden has done throughout his career: passing the Crime Bill to put more cops on our streets, passing to the landmark Violence Against Women Act, and serving as a steadfast voice every day for those more concerned about the price of gas and saving for retirement than the latest political charade in Washington.

Plouffe promises that Obama will grab the mantle of “change” back from McCain. Obama can do that, Plouffe writes, because “for two decades Barack Obama has challenged political insiders and outworn thinking to bring about real, meaningful change that helps people, not special interests.” And exhibit A, according to Plouffe, is…welfare reform. “From welfare reform, to tax relief for working families, to health care for children of working families who lacked coverage, Obama has been at the forefront of fights that have made a difference in the lives of everyday Americans.”

That one should be pretty easy pickings for those Rovian attack dogs in the McCain campaign. They just have to get the transcript of Obama’s appearance at the Saddleback Summit, and this exchange between Obama and Rick Warren, in which Obama admitted he was on the wrong side of…welfare reform:

WARREN: What’s the most significant position you held ten years ago that you no longer hold today, that you flipped on, you changed on, because you actually see it differently?

OBAMA: Because I actually changed my mind.

WARREN: You changed your mind. Exactly.

OBAMA: Well, you know, I — I’m trying to think back ten years ago. I think that a good example would be the issue of welfare reform, where I always believed that welfare had to be changed. I was much more concerned ten years ago when President Clinton initially signed the bill that this could have disastrous results. I worked in the Illinois legislature to make sure that we were providing child care and health care, other support services for the women who were going to be kicked off the roles after a certain time.

It had — it worked better than, I think, a lot of people anticipated. And, you know, one of the things that I am absolutely convinced of is that we have to work as a centerpiece of any social policy.

So maybe welfare reform isn’t the best example of Obama’s policy judgment. But come to think of it, all Plouffe said was that, on welfare reform and the other topics, Obama “has been at the forefront of fights that have made a difference in the lives of everyday Americans.” He didn’t say Obama was on the right side.

Byron York — Byron York is is the author of The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.

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