In the latest bloggingheads between Rod and Reza Aslan, Aslan suggested that the “Republicans fear Obama” idea that I commented on before is actually a ploy to trick Democrats into backing the weaker candidate. That might be true for a handful of people, but I think the Republicans genuinely fear a progressive Democrat whose public image has not pigeonholed him as the left-wing politician that he obviously is, because the key to Republican electoral strategy every four years is to label the Democratic nomine as being “too far to the left” and therefore unrepresentative. I think there is an idea that Obama’s unity talk makes his progressivism seem non-threatening; the conciliatory approach he uses, which so annoys many hard-core progressives, sets his opponents at ease and, so I assume, Republicans fear that this then sets them up for a fall. I think this is completely wrong, but Republican fear of Obama is unavoidably tied to Republican admiration for Obama; since I have no particular admiration for him, and I don’t put much credit in the “atmospherics” that he tries to generate, I don’t see him as a general election threat. Indeed, in any other cycle where the Democrats do not possess so many inherent advantages, Obama would probably never have been able to reach this point. It is actually rather bizarre to fear the less nationally competitive, more progressive candidate in the general election, while assuming that the “centrist,” albeit widely disliked, is the one who will be easy to defeat. Likewise, it is bizarre for Democrats to fear the one candidate closely tied to the two policies that have so badly discredited the GOP with the country and with its own voters, but I think they do truly fear McCain, even though running against McCain would almost guarantee them victory.