It's remarkable to me that a younger candidate like Obama is so much better in these high-stakes contests than either Gore or Kerry. In particular on national security, he walked a knife's edge between sounding appropriately hawkish and sounding militant. And he did it effortlessly.
He said without discomfort that we would "kill" Bin Laden. With Iran, he said America would "do what's required" to prevent Iran from going nuclear, and not allow the U.N. to veto the use of American power when it's in our interests. What's most striking is that this language clearly reflects not what the focus groups say he should say, but what he really believes about the use of American power.
With Kerry and Gore you always felt they were both over selling their national security pitches, to appeal to some mythical Joe Six Pack, while simultaneously trying not to offend their liberal California donors.
Obama is comfortable in his skin. His campaign coherently reflects his values and his thinking, rather than trying to reflect whatever Bob Shrum thinks appeals to line workers in North Canton, Ohio.
I can't imagine a steadier hand at the tiller.