Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama is making nice toward the Arizona senator John McCain as an illustration of how he wants to run a general election campaign. In an interview last week, Obama called McCain a "war hero" worthy of everyone's respect and went on to say that despite their differences on the Iraq war, taxes, and domestic priorities, he intends to stay as positive as he can. Obama said he has avoided "the kind of slash-and-burn politics that we've become accustomed to. If I'm the nominee and John McCain's the nominee, I'm going to try as much as possible to maintain that [positive] tone." Obama, while saying he will stand up to Republicans when he disagrees with them, pledged to court the GOP nonetheless. "I mean, there's nothing uniquely Democratic about a respect for civil liberties," he said. "There's nothing uniquely Democratic about believing in a foreign policy of restraint. You know, a lot of the virtues I talk about are virtues that are deeply embedded in the Republican Party."
For his part, McCain isn't seeking such a Kumbaya moment. Quite the opposite. In a pointed reference to Obama, he said candidates shouldn't offer Americans the "platitude" of hope instead of real answers. "To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope," McCain said. Which goes to show that for now, the politics of positivism goes only so far.