The Judgment Card
If the latest ad is to be believed, it appears that “being against the Iraq War the whole time” is now becoming to the Barack Obama campaign what “I was mayor on 9/11” is to the Giuliani campaign.
Personally, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad strategy: given the overwhelming antipathy for the war among the general public, being known as the candidate who opposed the war from the get-go isn’t a bad idea. That said, I think that Kevin Drum is correct when he says that:
The problem is that judgment is a famously nebulous characteristic and it’s really, really hard to signal it effectively. After all, in the same way that everyone thinks they’re a better-than-average driver, everyone thinks they’re endowed with better-than-average judgment too. That makes it tough to convince people that your judgment is really something so special that they ought to vote you into the Oval Office. What’s more, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, the spiel has to be pitch perfect. If you sell it wrong it can sound more grating than inspirational.
My guess is, if Obama continues to play the judgment card solely on the issue of Iraq, it’s going to be just annoying for most voters. I do think that it’s a good part of his campaign to highlight, but if he’s serious about wanting voters to consider his good judgment, he needs to focus on some other past instances in his life where he displayed it.