The limits of reticence

The Age of Obama will not be known as an age of reticence. The president is, after all, a man of many words, including some that used to resonate widely.

But there is one area in which Obama has ushered in a new reticence. Following Obama’s lead, Democratic politicians increasingly flatly refuse to tell to voters what their positions are on key matters.

Obama started the trend by voting “present” repeatedly on controversial measures presented to the Illinois State Senate. During a speech to 2008 Republican convention, Rudy Giuliani quipped that he didn’t know you could do that.

I suppose you always could. But until Obama came along, few (if any) politicians had the audacity regularly to try.

In the 2014 campaign, Democrats in key Senate races are voting “present” on the issue of Obama’s 2012 reelection. In Kentucky, Alison Grimes, citing the “sanctity of the ballot box,” refuses to say what her position was on the not insignificant matter of who should lead our country. Michelle Nunn has followed suit in Georgia.

I didn’t know you could do that.

In Kansas, Greg Orman has carried the joke one step further. He refuses to say which Party he would align himself with if elected to the Senate. Again, the matter — on which control of the Senate might hinge — does not seem insignificant.

Fortunately, Orman’s reticence seems to wearing thin in Kansas. Not long ago, he held a lead of five points or more over Sen. Pat Roberts. But Roberts is ahead in three of the five most recent polls, and the RCP average has the two candidates deadlocked at 45.2 percent.

Orman is obviously a liberal Democrat. If nothing else, his past campaign contributions establish this.

Orman fears that, in Kansas, to know him would be to dislike him. But it may also turn out to be true that to not know Orman is to not like him.

Here is the kind of ad to which Orman’s reticence has made him susceptible:


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