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OBAMA’S LEAD….I notice that a number of liberal pundits are starting to worry in public that maybe John McCain is making up some ground and that maybe, just maybe, he could end up pulling ahead by election day. And sure, anything is possible. But I suspect that this growing fear is due in large part to the fact that, even now, a lot of people really aren’t quite sure why Obama is winning.

That includes plenty of conservatives, too, who are practically insane with frustration over what’s going on. After all, they’ve pulled out all the usual stops. They’ve called Obama a traitor, a radical, an appeaser, a terrorist lover, an Israel hater, and a socialist. And that stuff usually does the trick. So what’s wrong this time?

Obama himself is part of it. He’s been pretty unflappable and, like FDR, uses humor and mockery effectively to deflect a lot of the fever swamp stuff. His campaign is part of it too. It helps a lot when your response includes not just humor and mockery, but four TV ads to every one of McCain’s.

And then there’s the X factor: for some reason, the public just isn’t buying the old swill this year. Is it because of the economy? Because they’re tired of Republicans? Because they think Obama is The One? Who knows? And because we don’t really, truly know, we’re afraid that maybe if McCain finds just the right pitch, just the right attack line, just the right dodge, the whole thing could come crashing down and the public will, once again, start buying the old swill after all.

But I think that’s exactly the wrong way to look at it. If it were just personality, maybe picking Sarah Palin as his running mate really would have turned things around. If it were just ads, maybe a better ad from McCain might do the trick. But if the real problem is that public opinion has turned against modern, GOP-style conservatism in a big way — and that really does seem to be the case — then Obama has the strongest possible kind of lead. Like Adam Smith’s invisible hand, it may seem mysterious, but it’s no less powerful for all that.

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