He certainly describes a rather dramatic change in approach from the current administration and, accepting that he really intends to withdraw from Iraq promptly, he proposes a meaningful change in foreign policy. Eisenhower said that the toughest fight of the president was trying to restrain the military and Obama talks as if he will engage in that fight, which would be a meaningful change. Eisenhower said that he would not have been able to prevail in his fight had he not been the leader of the allied forces in World War II, suggesting that even in the 1950’s the fight to restrain the military was not an easy one. It would be interesting to see how successful Obama is in carrying this out . McCain has said nothing I’ve heard to indicate that he would oppose the wishes of the Pentagon in any regard.
It is in terms of domestic policy that Obama’s notion of change is unclear. My impression is that he is trying to position himself as a Clinton (Bill) Democratic, fiscally conservative. On health care, and the financial crisis he is more conservative than Hillary Clinton in terms of government intervention. Like Bill Clinton and Republicans before Reagan, he posits that one of the chief domestic issues is getting the nation out of so much debt. As far as I know most economists (such as Alan Greenspan, who sees Bush’s economic policy as disastrous) and for that matter businesses outside the defense industry agree that a more conservative fiscal policy, such as the Democrats propose, would be a good thing.
My sense right now is that if Obama can successfully deal with the Pentagon he would change foreign policy, but that domestically there would be little change in governmental programs. I should say that I do not view the health insurance proposals of Clinton and Obama as dramatic policy shifts. Maybe there should not be a dramatic change; maybe the system just needs improvement, not serious change. Kucinich’s single payer program was a significant shift, but apparently it is conventional wisdom that a dramatic shift would not be attainable or perhaps is not desirable.
I understand that part of the process of getting elected is avoidance of policy statements that will alienate a segment of the population and the trick is avoid saying anything too definite so as to avoid alienating anyone. Just the same I personally would feel better knowing exactly what policy Obama would champion.