There’s been lots of talk in the last couple weeks in the punditocracy about the the above question. The talking heads seem to have come to two consensi (with, of course, notable exceptions):
- The United States is a “center-right” country
- PBO* will govern from the “center-left”
I don’t know about the first bullet. It seems a bit far-fetched to me to claim that in a year of such sweeping victories for those on the “left.” I do think that most Americans continue to favor “lower taxes,” but usually just lower taxes for themselves. But that doesn’t make Americans “right” or “conservative.” What that makes Americans is self-interested. (See, for instance, What’s the Matter with Kansas?)
Honestly, I don’t know that there’s a more “center-right” politician in American than John McCain, at least judging by his public record (less the last two years). And yet he went down in a decisive defeat.
I do, however, think that PBO will lead to the center, albeit the “center left.” I made this point several times on election eve on one of the most conservative Christian radio shows out there. I went on to challenge them to work with and support PBO if he does, in fact, lead to the center, and I offered to come live on their show in four years and actually eat a crow, prepared for me by Todd Friel, if PBO turns out to be a leftist idealogue.
I make this judgement about PBO not so much by his voting record in the Illinois State Senate or even the U.S. Senate, but instead based on the moderate and reasoned way in which he ran his campaign. It seems to me that a U.S. presidential campaign is quite possibly the most trying psychological meat grinder imaginable, yet BO never lost his cool — campaign workers have reported, since the election, that BO never once raised his voice in 22 months. That, my friends, should take your breath away.
Let’s, for instance, look at those he chose to run his campaign: David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs. Not Terry McAuliffe, James Carville, Paul Begala. BO avoided the TV-pretty blow-hards and chose advisors who are thoughtful, even-keeled, and circumspect. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the latter three on cable news and Meet the Press, and the former three are rather boring on TV. That’s my point.
In other words, I think PBO will be a man of calm, who measures his words and gathers around himself those who will aid him in making reasoned, thoughtful decisions.
Finally, here’s a good graphjam from yesterday that keeps this all in perspective:
more music charts
*PBO = President Barack Obama