I probably don't have to tell you that that's DLC-speak for "ignore the left, pander to the right". Well, with the win in the wind and assuming there won't be the kind of massive election theft we don't believe the GOP is capable of (yet), the Blue Dog right-wing ideologues of the DLC are already rushing to give Obama notes on how not to move toward the people who are electing him.
The good news is that the terms of his victory likely will have left him some room to maneuver. The not-so-good news is that expectations are sky-high and that some of his supporters will press him to throw caution to the wind and emulate FDR's first 100 days, or LBJ's feverish legislative pace in 1965 and 1966. This is a temptation Obama would do well to resist. Despite today's crisis environment, there are economic and political limits to government activism that the president-elect will ignore at his peril.
[Obama's] investment agenda (as distinct from the stimulus package) does represent an addition to the long-term spending baseline. The risk is that at some point, the rest of the world will become less willing to finance an orgy of American deficit spending and will demand higher interest rates, which could torpedo prospects for sustainable growth. The new administration will have to judge where that point is and be willing to change course if its first guess about the tolerance of global lenders turns out to be wrong.
[T]he people will expect Democrats to act as a governing majority. That means agreeing on an agenda for the first two years and then getting it done. The more ambitious the agenda, the more likely it is to fall victim to entrenched political realities, and failing to strike a workable balance between ambition and political feasibility would invite a repetition of the 1994 mid-term disaster that left Bill Clinton on the defensive for the remainder of his presidency.
This is, as Sirota points out, Blue Dog conservative code for "do what the corporations want you to do and don't scare them with any lefty-liberal nonsense about fair wages and lots of spending on those lazy welfare bums".
Galston joins Doug Schoen and Mark Penn in forwarding two pernicious memes. The first is the Dirty Fucking Hippie meme, cloaked in the declaration that "some of his supporters will press him to throw caution to the wind." That is, those who support Obama are crazy leftists who a President Obama, if he is Serious, must ignore.
The second meme is the "Bill Clinton Initially Failed Because He Tried to Govern Like a Marxist" story. This is used as the basis to claim that history proves Obama must tack to the hard right if he wins.
Both memes are, of course, utter bullshit.
[T]he real story is what a Republican corporate lobbyist told thePolitico yesterday:
He recalled the arrival of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Rather than going after business, Clinton presented a moderate image and reached out to the corporate community.
Clinton's goal was to "co-opt a portion of the business community" through his positions on free trade and other issues, said this lobbyist. And the strategy worked pretty effectively with global corporations.
That's what actually happened -- Clinton did exactly what Galston and his fellow conservatives want Obama to do: He tacked to the corporate right with things like NAFTA, demoralized his base, and then his party got crushed in the mid-term elections, crippling the rest of his presidency.
I don't remember who first said it (but it must have been a blogger) so I'll go ahead and say it again: Reality has a liberal bias. It doesn't matter whether the conservatives who advocate policies that don't work for anybody but the rich belong to the GOP or the Democrats, they've been wrong about everything. They were wrong then and they're wrong now. The policies the DLC conservatives want Obama to graft onto are the very same ones that are ruining the country right now. We did NOT elect Barack so we could have more of Bush but less than McCain would have given us, but that's the direction the Blue dogs are already pushing him in.
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 milions 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, we're going to govern from the left"? You think it's going to be more of a bipartisan let's sort of heal and bring everbody together?
MCCASKILL: He will pleasantly surprise everyone who votes for John McCain today.
It has already begun and the election isn't even over yet. The Blue Dogs are already trying to make sure there will be a red carpet for corporate lobbyists and that Obama will be forced to keep some form of Bushian policies even though we specifically got him elected to do precisely the opposite.
I'm going to play devil's advocate here and read McCaskill's comments about Obama reaching out to McCain supporters and working with Republicans in a little more sanguine way. First, let me say that I agree with David and Glenn on the substance of their remarks. We're all only too familiar with cowering Democrats abandoning their positions and principles out of deference to some imagined public backlash if they dare to deviate from the alleged "center-right" nature of the country. And I suppose that McCaskill's remarks (which I didn't see) could be interpreted as an early warning shot fired across Obama's bow. If that's what they are, it's more of the tiresome same.
But I think her comments could also be seen as less pointed, as more abstract, and as in the generous bipartisan spirit that Obama has consistently evoked. Bipartisanship can mean selling out, but it can also mean trying to bring people together -- and be effective. Sure, there's probably no way to bring members of the GOP base together with Obama supporters. But there are many McCain supporters who are not part of the Republican base. Obama's appeal has always been that he will be able to both pursue a progressive agenda and unify the country (as much as possible.) I hope I'm not being a kumbaya singer to say that would be a good thing.
Well, maybe just a little.