The man who made the federal government's role the center of the campaign is also the man who was the center of attention in the debate: Rick Perry.
He has his story about the 10th Amendment and he is sticking to it. An all-but-forgotten part of the Bill of Rights until recently, it has become the organizing principle of the GOP race this year. When Perry mentioned the federal government during the debate, he used the word "they." It was "they" -- the feds -- who were disregarding their duty to protect the border with Mexico.
Think about it: the federal government is "they."
Is that the way most Americans regard it?
Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Unless of course you are part of the establishment that considers the federal government as "we".
It will be up to President Obama not only to make the case for his own re-election, but for the role of the federal government itself.
It has been a long time -- since the 1920s -- that anyone has really had to do that. Perry threw down the challenge.
And while you're at it, Mr. Fineman, you might take a look at the economic success of the 1920s, and its relationship to a small federal government in that period. And don't throw at me the crash of 1929 until you have examined the role of fiscal and monetary policy at the time.
And, one more thing. Why did you completely ignore Ron Paul -- the candidate who is the most serious about reducing the role of the federal government? Fear, perhaps, or are you falling for the groupthink that he is a wacko fringe candidate? Just asking...