The Untenability of Centrist Politics

If you need a good laugh these days, just read the Washington Post. David Ignatius'op-ed entitled Mr. Cool's Centrist Gamble is a case in point. It's true that if Obama attempts to govern as centrist he will find it to be political quicksand in the long run but Mr. Ignatius actually thinks that partisanship is politics as usual and that the dire straits we confront require a tack to the political center. Now that the ship of state is sinking, abandon partisanship is the cry inside the beltway. Funny how that when the conservative GOP controlled the reins of government, partisanship was in vogue. Yet now that the liberal Democrats assume the mantle, compromise is of the essence.

The impatient freshman senator is about to become president, but he hasn't lost his distaste for Washington politics as usual. And as the inauguration approaches, Obama is doing something quite remarkable: Rather than settling into the normal partisan governing stance, he is breaking with it -- moving toward the center in a way that upsets some of his liberal allies but offers the promise of broad national support.

Obama talked during the campaign about creating a new kind of post-partisan politics -- and dissolving the country's cultural and racial and ideological boundaries. Given Obama's limited record as a centrist politician, it was hard to know if he really meant it. John McCain had a more compelling record of working across party lines than did his Democratic rival.

It turns out that Obama was serious. Since Election Day, he has taken a series of steps to co-opt his opponents and fashion a new governing majority. It's an admirable strategy but also a high-risk one, since the "center," however attractive it may be in principle, is often a nebulous political never-never land.

Obama's bet is that at a time of national economic crisis, the country truly wants unity. "I keep telling Republicans, 'This guy has to succeed.' Otherwise, we're doomed," says David Smick, a financial analyst who wrote a prophetic book about the economic crisis called "The World Is Curved." But it remains an open question whether the Republicans will do more than applaud politely when Obama asks for help.

Obama does have to succeed (though Mr. Smick is talking about saving globalization, not the American economy per se) which is why a President Obama will have to in the end subscribe to core Democratic values and enact long-sought liberal policies that enhance fairness and restore prosperity for all, not just a select few. That's my definition of success. Mr. Ignatius' op-ed is but a ploy of the inside-the-beltway crowd to remain relevant doing the dirty work of the GOP. Though in truth, I think Mr. Ignatius misreads what the President-elect means by post-partisan. My take is that Obama is  more attempting to do something that has not been done in modern American politics: unite a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents behind an agenda of sweeping change. Mr, Ignatius' view of tacking to the center is really an euphemism for cutting taxes in this debate over the fiscal stimulus and it hardly qualifies as "sweeping change."

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Obama : $500 for single , $1000 for family tax cut, billions more for business = Krugman unhappy

I want everyone to take a step back and think back how we were all pissed at the republicans paying more heed to business over the families. You know the age old line we draw between those freaking republicans and our goals, right? How bush giving back 1000 bucks to families was laughed off in the dailyKos membership quarters.   Well...now we are giving into republicans ( and mind you I don't say it's bad thing as far smart politics is concerned or fiscal policy for that matter)to appease them to get on board. 40% of the plan are tax cuts and described in the media as " music to republican ears. Presumably, there are huge tax write offs for business and for losses up to the last 5 years and for business who invest now !" 

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Politico Continues To Just Make Shit Up About Obama's Tax Policy

The favorite parlor game over at Politico these days appears to be "Which promise has Barack Obama broken?" Except they're really not very good at their own game.

As I wrote on Monday, Jonathan Martin, in his capacity as Politico's Obama transition correspondent, wrote a supposedly straight news piece about Obama's Meet The Press interview in which he asserted that:

In the wide-ranging [Meet the Press] appearance, Obama once again gave strong indications that he's backing off his stance on two key campaign pledges - whether to repeal President George W. Bush's tax cuts for the rich, and his call for bringing U.S. combat troops home from Iraq in 16 months.

That was Sunday. Then on Monday, Politico published an article by Carol Lee and Nia-Malika Henderson called "Liberals voice concerns about Obama" (oh noes!) in which they appear to take Martin's claim about Obama's supposedly backing away from his promise to repeal Bush's tax cuts at face value. Their version of this same bullshit meme:

Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy...

First of all, as David Sirota documents ably, President-elect Obama backed away from absolutely nothing during his Sunday interview on Meet The Press.

On taxes, Obama said, "My economic team right now is examining -- do we repeal that through legislation [or] do we let it lapse so that, when the Bush tax cuts expire, they're not renewed when it comes to wealthiest Americans?" In other words, he didn't say he was considering not repealing the tax cuts, he said he was considering how to repeal them - whether to support repealing them now, or whether to support them being automatically repealed by statute in two years. But the support for repeal is a foregone conclusion.

But perhaps more important than that is the fact that this idea that Obama had ever promised to "immediately" repeal the Bush tax cuts is a complete fabrication in itself. Jed L over at dailyKos found no fewer than 11 media reports that reference Obama's campaign pledge to "let the Bush tax cuts expire" in 2011.

It turns out, then, that Obama's talk of repealing them via legislation sooner than 2011 would actually be his campaign pledge on steroids and would in fact be something that would be embraced by the left, not the betrayal of the left imagined by Politico.

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Gordon Smith - in Bush's corner

You have to hand it to Gordon Smith, he is quick on his feet when he's cornered. Now he's lining up names like Kennedy and Barack Obama to shore up his image.

What is his real record?

Well, he has been a great legislator......for President Bush's failed policies:

1. He's supported tax-cuts for the wealthy.

2. He's supported Subsidies for Big Oil.

3. He's voted against allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices through Medicare.

Gordon Smith - he is in someone's corner, and that is Bush's corner.

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Even John McCain Wouldn't Vote for John McCain

(cross-posted at Motley Moose and Clintonistas for Obama)

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Straight talk.

Apparently it's a dying art.

John McCain was never a maverick. He was a staunch Republican whose positions deviated from those of his party only on occasion. But the one thing he had going for him was honesty and sincerity. He told the country what he believed and why he believed it, firmly and unapologetically. He stood up for his beliefs even if they were unpopular. He defended his principles. But somewhere along the line John McCain gave up. He sacrificed his principles, he surrendered to the sordid tactics of his party, the tactics he once despised and vocally denounced. To fully understand the magnitude of his fall, one must look back -- a glance at the McCain of a month ago, really, is sufficient to understand the duplicity of his statements and positions, but the differences between the McCain of 2000 and the McCain of 2008 are staggering. A brief list compiled by blogger Alex Valentine shows the stark contrast between the two McCains:

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