Judicious Endorsement

At times during Sen. Patrick Leahy’s endorsement of Barack Obama today, he sounded like he was endorsing Hillary Clinton. Leahy focused much of his praise on Obama’s ability to restore America’s reputation around the world, which is a usual talking point for Obama endorsers. But one of Leahy’s lines evoked Clinton’s brand of change as much as Obama’s. From the press release:

Barack Obama represents the America we once were and want to be again. … Barack Obama will be a President who once again believes, “Yes, we can.”  

Note Leahy’s word choice here. We’re not creating a new America, we’re returning to the America we used to be, presumably before President Bush took office. Obama won’t be a new kind of president, he’ll be the kind of president we used to have, like, say, back in the Clinton years. That sounds pretty similar to the kind of change Hillary Clinton markets .

As much as Obama needs support from the Senate establishment, he also runs the risk of dooming his change message. The always snappy and candid Leahy is a great pick-up for Obama, but his mind-set seems to be stuck in the ‘90s, which would be fine if Obama weren’t running against the ‘90s’ first lady. 

But there’s a trade-off. Leahy also has the political savvy to offer one-liners that eloquently encompass entire candidacies. From the conference call: 

We need a president who can reintroduce America to the world and also reintroduce America to ourselves.

A “reintroduction to ourselves” is about as Obama-esque as it gets.