As the candidates enter the "closing arguments" phase—as if they did something terrible and are now standing trial for it—we’re seeing many of them circle back to where they started. In fact, the closing arguments look a lot like the opening arguments.
Rudy Giuliani has a new minutelong ad harping on 9/11 . Barack Obama delivered a speech today called "Stand for Change," which sounds a lot like his original campaign announcement . Mitt Romney is returning to the managerial-competence argument that fueled initial interest in his candidacy. John Edwards is still blasting lobbies and special interest groups (while navigating some conflict of interest problems of his own). Mike Huckabee is once again showing off his favorite gun (the Weatherby .300 Magnum, you surely recall ). John McCain once again seems to have a fighting chance . And Hillary Clinton even calls her recent ad " New Beginning ," giving the whole primary calendar a warm, circle-of-life symmetry.
Even more telling: Both the Republican and Democratic races are just as much of a tossup now as they were in January 2007. For a race whose dominant theme has been "change," it's bizarre to find ourselves back where we were. We're a year older, but are we any wiser? Arguably, at best.