Barack Obama will formally accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for President tomorrow here in Denver, Colorado. There is rampant speculation about what he will say. I've heard many people bemoaning the lack of aggression on the part of the Democrats. I've heard lots of people worried that McCain is pulling ahead.
I am not worried, and I don't think the Democrats need to be more aggressive. I'm happy with how Obama is responding to McCain and the Republicans; forcefully, with justified anger, but not out of fear or cynicism.
My problem with Obama going negative on McCain is that he lowers himself to McCain's level, and I think that's not a good approach. McCain may very well win a mudfight.
Obama's trick, then, has to be that he has to be tough, but not nasty. But that's still not enough. He has to force McCain to play on his terms.
Which I think he will do. Democrats aren't used to a leader being able to force Republicans to play on their terms; Clinton, at his best, was still reacting somewhat to Republicans.
I think Obama will pose this question for McCain: what is his plan to restore American greatness? He's part of the team that got us into this mess - we can't trust him to get us out of it.
Obama will reclaim liberal pride in what it means to be an American. He will remind us of the challenges that we have faced as a nation, and how we have overcome them. That's been a theme so far - from Michelle, from Hillary. But the conversation has been distracted by other factors - was Michelle's speech effective, did Hillary do enough to convince her supporters to switch to Obama?
None of this will be new for Obama. He's said it all before - we need to come together as a nation, we need to put aside partisan attacks, and focus on what we as a country need to do to solve our problems. But he'll put some meat on the bones - we need to fix our infrastructure, our schools, our healthcare, etc. Again, nothing new.
But it will feel fresh, coming so long after Obama won the nomination, so long after he was a fresh voice on the scene. It will seem incredibly refreshing after McCain's petty and trivial "celebrity" ads.
Obama does not need to go on the attack. That is the Republican playbook. He needs to prove to the American people that he can solve their damn problems.
Fortunately for all of us, he can.