I'm bemused by the tendency of some folks to imagine that a candidate who is well-spoken, who speaks in generalities and appeals to widely-held values, must be hiding something. Yeah, but where's the beef? one often hears. We heard this in the case of candidate Deval Patrick; and I got sick of saying that actually, he was the guy who rolled out his position papers before any of the other candidates. And now people are saying this with regard to Barack Obama: Hillary and McCain, along with many other pundits, criticize his penchant for “platitudes” and contend he doesn't have well-developed policy ideas.
That's just lazy. Here's Obama's big fat pdf of policy stuff. Knock yourself out. We can talk about whether he's got good or bad ideas, but please don't tell me he doesn't have any. I know that's false.
Now, it's true that Obama doesn't emphasize policy nuts-and-bolts in his stump speeches or appearances the way that Hillary does. But the media seem to imagine that most people don't know much about policy except very broad distinctions, and that they don't vote based on the fine differences between the candidates. I don't have any evidence that they're wrong about that. I've always felt that very, very few people — from truck drivers to PhD's — know enough about policy to have that outweigh their feelings about personality and temperament in choosing a candidate. I'd love to be proven wrong on that.
And maybe bloggers and blog-readers should talk policy a lot more. Maybe we should be leading by example. Why wait for Obama to talk about his policy positions? They're already out in public; why not hash them over yourself?