Can Barack Obama Successfully Move to the Center?

If Bill Clinton sticks his head up and there’s a shadow, there’s two years of compromise.

OOPS! Sorry! Not “compromise” – two years of “common ground.”

On “60 Minutes” incoming House Majority John Boehner made it clear he doesn’t seek something as reprehensible or sleazy as “compromise” but does seek “common ground.” So just add “compromise” to the list of words made inoperative for political or marketing reasons, where you use a word that means the same thing but sounds different. You know “progressive” for “liberal,” “pre-owned cars” for “used cars” — “enhanced pat down” for “feel up.”

But Bill Clinton did indeed stick his head up at the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama — and he cast a long media and political shadow.

It came on a day when Vermont’s self-proclaimed Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders conducted an unofficial Senate filibuster rant against Obama’s tax cut extension compromise …I mean…common ground agreement…with Republicans. Sanders threatened to suck up too much political oxygen and dominate the weekend news cycle. Liberal bloggers and tweeters who felt Obama “caved” to the GOP went wild. Sanders became almost as much a folk hero as the “Don’t Touch My Junk” guy. His seemingly unending comments started gaining traction in the mainstream media.

Until Clinton spoke. Clinton was introduced by Obama, who said he was late in meeting his wife and bowed out, leaving Clinton alone to talk to reporters. The pundits went wild. Why, wouldn’t this hurt Obama’s image? Didn’t it make Obama look weak? Wasn’t Obama in effect giving back the White House back to Bill Clinton? Why, this was unprecedented!!

It was a classic case of how in the media saying nothing is perceived as worse than saying something d-u-m-b.

A better question would have been: Was this all mere political optics? And the likely answer?

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