04 November 2008

Center-Right Nation

Election returns haven't yet started to come in, but the eminently predictable defining narrative surrounding the election is already starting to play out amongst the establishment. David Sirota calls it "Center-Right Nation," the idea that, regardless of how large the Democratic victory is tonight, they should in no way interpret it as a mandate for liberal government from the American people. Glenzilla, blogging with Sirota at Salon's election day blog, writes;

Obama hasn't even won yet, and already the standard cast of Beltway status-quo-perpetuators are demanding that he scorn his base, stay as far away from "liberals" as possible, and fill his cabinet with old Clinton establishment retreads and even Bush administration appointees. In other words, the only way that Democrats can be successful is if they look as much like Republicans as possible -- the same sorry advice Democrats have been following (and failing with) for decades.
Greenwald and Sirota cite many of the usual suspects, the DLC, New Republic, and MO Sen. Claire McCaskill on Fox News. Also, on last night's Charlie Rose, Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report was making a similar argument; Obama must reach out to those paranoid McCain supporters and reassure them he isn't a black Islamocommie. Everyone gets one vote, but, if you're really really afraid of Obama, apparently your vote counts for more.

I suspect, however, that this meme is being laid down precisely because it will give Obama the cover he needs to do what he wants to do anyway; govern from the right. I watched the quadrennial Frontline special on the candidates' lives on Monday night, and its clear that compromise of this sort has been a defining characteristic in Obama's past. If he were working at an animal shelter and had the choice of giving a dog to someone who wanted to adopt it and someone who wanted to eat it, Obama is the kind of guy who would cut out a few organs for the latter and give the dead carcass to the former. That's a good analogy for the kind of political "compromises" Obama will be asked to accept by the Beltway establishment, and Id guess he's more than amenable to them.