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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama, the left, and the right

As usual, I think Digby at Hullabaloo is RIGHT ON:

Walter Isaacson on Fareed Zakaria's show: If you look at the really big issues that you've got to tackle, the four or five big ones, you've got to deal with terrorism, with the financial crisis, with health care, climate change and K-12 education in this country --- you're better off doing it as a coalition reaching out to the other side because that's how transforming policies can be made.

Isn't it pretty to think so? I'm so sorry to intrude on the kumbaaya fantasy where the right graciously accepts Obama's hand in friendship and they all skip off into never-never land together, but the fact is that these changes are more often made by using political power to either win with a partisan mandate or force the other side to capitulate. These people think it's all about "reaching out" and telling your own constituents to take a hike when it's much more about skillfully using the bully pulpit and institutional leverage. (I guess they really think it's possible to solve huge intractable ideological, tribal differences by putting people in a room together and saying "stop the bullshit" --- or maybe in Obama's case, "I hear you." )

I would remind everyone that a (still popular with the GOP base) Republican president tried to pass a bipartisan compromise bill on immigration last year. It had many things in it that the "left" did not like. But they bit their tongues and went along. Who didn't go along? That's right, it was the far right that tanked their own president's bill and they did it with a grassroots campaign that scared the hell out of their political leadership. And they'll do it again.

. . . Considering that the Republican party really has been purged of moderates now, I'd say that the GOP is going to be the much bigger roadblock to compromise than the left. They're more radical than ever. The Republican party is now led by Rush Limbaugh. There's nobody else. And when Obama reaches out his hand to Rush Limbaugh he's going to get it whacked off with a chainsaw, at which point, these villagers (who haven't even considered this political problem) are going to blame Obama for being unable to govern in a bipartisan fashion.

All over television this morning the gasbags seemed convinced that Obama had been elected to stop the left from ruining the country. And when it turns out to actually be his supposedly cooperative new partners in governance --- the right --- that stands in his way, they will blame him for being too far left. It's a trap.

What these people really want is a wizard who can solve all problems without a fight, a leader who gives them tingles down their legs and an historic figure who makes them feel really, really good about themselves for being the agents of America's transformation from country to Nirvana. It's not the left who sees him as an apostle. It's the Village.



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