The Decembrist: The Many Presidencies of Bill Clinton contains further thoughts on my tactical disagreement with Brad DeLong.
There are many points, but the most interesting of all is this one:
I agree that I don't want to concede all of this in July of the election year. That's why making McCain the VP probably wouldn't have made sense. A candidate cannot put forth a persuasive agenda for renewal and simultaneously acknowledge how much of it he will have to compromise on. But, by the same token, I want to avoid the cycle of disappointment when Kerry faces the recognition that his power to implement an agenda depends on his finding a working relationship with Congress.
To which I replied in the comments,
As for the danger of raising expectations, there is simply no choice. You don't get elected dogcatcher by beeing gloomy and without offering a vision that makes people hopeful.
It's no accident that he word the Bush campaign most uses about Kerry these days, even more than flip-flop, is “pessimistic”. I bet the focus groups tested wild in favor of “optimism”—and it's so easy to claim that any suggestion that the administration is incompetent and things are going badly as “pessimism”. The reporters write it right down…