In Oregon on Friday, Barack Obama delivered a short speech on the economy. His remarks were notable not because he debuted any fresh proposals (he didn't) but for the explicit pains the Senator from Illinois took to distinguish his economic platform from John McCain's -- as opposed to that other candidate still running for President, whose name escapes my memory, possibly because Obama did not mention it a single time during his speech.
John McCain wants to continue George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; I want to give a tax cut to working people. I admired Senator McCain when he said he could not "in good conscience" support the Bush tax cuts. But now, as the Republican nominee, he's fully embraced them. He wants to give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest Americans who don't need them and didn't ask for them while working people are struggling. And for all his talk about fiscal responsibility, he's proposed $400 billion in tax cuts without any word about how he'll pay for him. That's exactly the kind of attitude that has shifted the burden on to the middle class, and mortgaged our children's future on a mountain of debt.
Obama also slagged McCain's gas tax holiday proposal, health care position, and support of the war in Iraq -- noting he would use the money saved from ending the war to invest "in our roads and bridges and ports. And I want to invest in millions of green jobs, so that we finally develop renewable energy, end our addiction to oil, bring those gas prices down, and save our planet in the bargain."
Good luck on getting those gas prices, down, Senator, because, if we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times -- if we want to save the planet, we need higher gas prices, not lower.
Whatever. Again, there wasn't much new to see here, except that, when he concluded with the observation, "there will be real differences on the ballot in November," you could almost feel a fresh breeze wafting through the campaign. After a long winter and spring of mostly imaginary differences blown up into all-consuming conflagrations, the battle-decks appear to finally be clearing, in preparation for a struggle in which it really won't be that hard to choose sides, however bitter you might be about who is emerging as the most likely person to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America.