As Barack Obama assembles his cabinet and key White House advisers, he's choosing a lot more people from the "centrist" or corporate-friendly wing of the Democratic Party than movement progressives. He is leaving George Bush's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, in place. He has also made some symbolic moves that angered a lot of progressives, in particular selecting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration.
I understand the political arguments in favor of Obama's strategy, and opinion polls support some of them. When asked whether they approve of Obama or how he is handling the transition (different pollsters ask the question differently), anywhere from 65 percent to 75 percent of Americans are saying they approve.
I've been wondering how much Obama's conciliatory gestures have been helping him with Republicans and conservatives of the wingnut variety. I'm not talking about Jim Leach Republicans, I'm talking about the kind of person who really believed Obama was a "socialist."
For example, one of my friends told me last month that her mother's best friend believes changing the American flag will be "the first order of business" when Obama takes office. I am not kidding.
In the next ten days, many of us will attend holiday parties and family reunions. I don't recommend that you bring up politics at these events if that would make people uncomfortable. However, if you come from a family where politics are often discussed when folks get together, I would like to hear from you.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out whether your conservative friends and relatives have abandoned some of their more paranoid beliefs about Obama since he was elected. In other words, how well have Obama's conciliatory gestures allayed conservative fears about his intentions? Is he likely to get more of a honeymoon than Bill Clinton did in 1993?
After the holidays, report back in an open thread or with your own diary.
If you are driving to another city for the holidays, read this piece on safe driving tips by The Baculum King, based on his experience as a truck driver and one particularly horrifying accident he witnessed.
Daily Kos user Translator followed up with this diary containing more advice about driving safely in cold weather.
Remember, "research has found driving while talking on a cellphone to be as dangerous as driving drunk."