Even here, however, events may turn judgments regarding candidates’ qualifications on their head. During the tightly contested 2008 Democratic nomination race, Hillary Clinton, seeking to paint Obama as a political novice who lacked foreign policy experience, ran her celebrated 3 a.m. phone call ad. John McCain picked up on this theme during the general election by repeatedly contrasting his years of political and military service to Obama’s much thinner resume. Most voters, however, weren’t seeking experience so much as a new direction in the nation’s politics.
It is thus no small irony that three years into Obama’s presidency, voters appear to be seeking change again. The Candidate of Change, after all, has become in large part the President of Continuity. The strongest portion of Obama’s record, many would argue, is not how much he’s changed Washington, but his foreign policy accomplishments, many of which build off of his predecessor’s administration.