Monday, October 20, 2008

Why Obama Owes the Country a Centrist Administration

I'm struck by something today. It struck me as I read yet one more Republican conservative endorse Obama.

First, as these conservatives jump on the bandwaggon, so to speak, I'm struck by a commonality of thinking:

1. That McCain's responses to the recent economic crisis have seemed reckless and unplanned.

2. That his pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate suffered from the same thoughtlessness.

3. That Palin has proven to be supremely unqualified, justifying the early scandals.

4. That Obama has shown himself to be thoughtful and Presidential.

5. That McCain's campaign has been divisive and dangerous.

Basically, the same points that I - and many bloggers on the left (and the lonely conservative Andrew Sullivan) - have been harping on about now for months.

That is, it seems that more and more people from the far left to the center right are converging on the same idea: McCain has come unhinged. Obama, however, could be great.

So it seems to me there is an awaking going on. An awakening around a consensus. And that's a powerful thing.

What strikes me is that, if Obama is to govern toward the consensus that is electing him, he needs to head more toward the middle than an ordinary Democrat - or his record - would suggest. He really needs to govern from the center left, as Clinton did. He needs to be Clinton, without the drama.

Let's look at this graphically:

**Far left (Daily Kos/Huff Post) - **Traditional Dem (John Stewart/Charles Schumer) - **Center Left (DNC) -
**Moderate/Independent (CNN/Blog Bunker) -
**Center Right (Powell/Sullivan) - **Traditional Republican (Lugar/Frum/Brooks) - Far Right (Limbaugh/Palin/McCain 2008)

**It seems now that Obama has support across the spectrum, except for the far right and a few moderates like Giulani who have transformed into far-right attack dogs.

There are a lot of good reasons for Obama to govern toward the political middle. There are many problems for the country to solve. Moving the country from the far right of the Bush administration will take time. It's time we had a leader for all of the country, not just half of it.

But perhaps the most important reason is that Obama OWES his supporters an administration that speaks to everyone who has seen the light and supported him. If they are listening to him - he should listen to them.

And if Obama were to govern toward the middle of his support, he'd govern somewhere between Center Left and Moderate. In other words, socially liberal/economically conservative (while attacking communal problems like healthcare, energy, education, and global warming), but with a strong theme of personal responsibility that places him just to the right of Clinton.

As it happens, that's pretty much where I am politically. So maybe I'm projecting?

But if Obama is smart, he'd go there. He'd bring both his far-left and traditional Republican support together into a consensus administration that may be slightly left of the middle on most issues, but also draws from the best ideas from both sides of the spectrum. And in the process, he'd transform the Democratic party into a governing majority party for a generation.

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