Wednesday, November 5, 2008


David Sirota, Open Left - Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) delivered Democrats' election-day message this morning on Fox News. Officially speaking for the Obama campaign, McCaskill told Fox that Barack Obama's first order of business as president is to appease Republicans and start filling his cabinet with them. Here's the key exchange:

FOX: If [Obama] wins tonight, what do you expect to happen Wednesday Thursday Friday from a President-elect Obama?

MCCASKILL: He will surprise America how quickly he will try to reach out to the millions of people who are voting for John McCain today - and the millions of people who have questions about his leadership. He'll want to reassure them, and he'll want to find Republicans to work with him in his cabinet.

FOX: You don't predict it's going to be "we have a mandate, were going to govern from the left" you think its going to be more of a bipartisan lets-sort of heal and bring everbody together?

MCCASKILL: He will pleasantly surprise everyone who votes for John McCain today. . .

McCaskill is channeling the "Center-Right Nation" meme we've been seeing through the whole media in the lead up to this election. . . We are told that the only Responsible and Serious thing to do is for a President Obama to govern as a mainstream corporate Republican.

What this analysis fails to consider - or deliberately ignores - is that the entire "center" has shifted. So while I agree with folks like Salon's Joan Walsh that there's no conceptual problem with an Obama presidency being populated by "centrists," there is a conceptual problem if those "centrists" aren't actually in the center of American public opinion. That is, if these "centrists" are actually corporatists whose free market fundamentalism on economic issues is well to the right of public opinion.

Sure, Democrats seem poised to make gains in "red" states and "red" districts. But as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) displayed so well in his silly and stupid declaration about the Patriot Act in 2006 - many of these "red" states and "red" districts are incredibly progressive in supporting strong privacy/civil liberties protections and opposing corporate-written trade policies championed by so-called "centrist" Democrats and Republicans alike. Come on out here to the traditionally "red" swaths of Colorado or Montana, and try running for office bragging about NAFTA or the Patriot Act - i.e. D.C.'s definition of "centrism" - and you better get ready to get crushed at the polls. . .


At November 7, 2008 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Claire knows well of which she speaks--she's been 'channeling' Jim Talent more or less since defeating him two years ago. True enough, many who've supported Talent in the past are pleasantly surprised by their Senator McCaskill. For those of us who voted for her in 2006 in an effort to provide the Democrats with the mandate to challenge the excesses of recent years, her election has been a grave disappointment.

As for President-elect Obama, the writing has been on the wall for at least the last five years. One can only hope that he, too, is capable of change and will find it in himself to rise up to fulfill the image of leadership he inspired in the imaginations of those who actually voted for him.


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