Details

Ezra wonders how Obama can turn the perception game around:

It’s definitely not the case that voters want to hear more policy details from Barack Obama. If it were, then the Obama campaign would be in good shape, as they’d just have the candidate read out some policy details. When the focus groupers complain that there’s too much oratory and not enough substance, they’re actually getting at something much harder for the Obama campaign to combat: The perception that he’s all glitz. The Obama campaign’s struggle is that, over the course of the summer, they basically let their candidate get defined as a dilettante, and cleverly, the McCain camp used as its supporting evidence much that’s intrinsic to Obama: That he gives soaring speeches and is attractive and generates extreme levels of enthusiasm. They defined Obama, in other words, as a fad, and people don’t trust fads. It’s not clear how Obama campaign combats that perception given that it’s anchored to the fundamentals of his political style, but they’re either going to have to blunt the concern or open up a much greater vulnerability in McCain.

I disagree, sort of, and I think the answer is really simple. Obama should pound his website in stump speeches between now and the debates and then, in the debates press McCain hard on the details of his policy proposals. There’s little doubt that Obama has a pretty firm grip on the details of his healthcare, education, and tax policies, among others, whily McCain is almost uniquely unable to go beyond sound bytes, in large part because he doesn’t even understand the things he proposes. So if Obama is willing to engage and press McCain on the minute level of policy, he’ll pretty clearly demonstrate to the audience, and the national media, that he’s clearly the more substantive candidate.