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Posted by on Dec 8, 2008 in At TMV, Politics | 7 comments

Triangulation, Part II.

It seems that the honeymoon period of President-elect Barack Obama is over. As I previously posted, Obama’s biggest critics are not going to come from conservatives but from within the liberal base of his own party. Simply put, as a Republican I was comfortable supporting him because I saw a pragmatic, capable leader instead of a candidate that was driven by progressive ideology. For those of you who missed it, the clue was Obama’s praise of the foreign policy decisions of Ronald Reagan and Bush 41.

Barack Obama has surrounded himself with Clintonites for his first term including his Chief of Staff, his Commerce Secretary, and of course, Hillary as his Secretary of State. How will he govern from the center? The answer is to take use another Clinton strategy called Triangulation. Barack Obama will not make the same mistake Bill Clinton made in 1993. In 1993, Clinton assumed he had a mandate to change the culture of Washington. Instead of moving cautiously and building a consensus, Clinton tried to push through national healthcare. Not only did he fail in that initiative; his brashness had disastrous consequences in 1994 when the Democrats lost majorities in the House and Senate.

Barack Obama is a student of history. Triangulation is going to be a mantra of his administration before he takes the oath of office. Obama did not win as a progressive and he is not going to govern as one.

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  • We shall see. Whether he governed as a progressive won’t be something we’ll know until Summer 2012; if you really want to read the tea leaves ex ante, however, I would think the focus is more properly placed on the substance, not the tone. Who he chooses to execute his plans is less significant than what those plans are – and he was told us something about the latter. So far, since being elected, he’s talked about bailing out Detroit and a massive new federal spending program. Sounds “progressive” to me. He has also indicated, in his choice of Clinton as Secretary of State, that he views the Constitution as an inconvenience, to be avoided where possible, ignored when necessary; that, too, is a hallmark of the left.

  • jeff_pickens

    Tony, I guess it would depend on the definition of “progressive.” I see nothing wrong with the word or the concept. We need to progress.

    I hardly think it’s time to predict on the degree to which the Constitution will be viewed as an “inconvenience,” when we have barely begun to assess the damage that’s been done to that very concept in the last 8 years.

    What hypocrisy.

    I agree with many posters here, who have no sympathy for failed business giants. I do however have sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of their workers, and hope that should any bailout proceed, there can be at least some contingencies on the “direction” we might need to go. Sometimes that miraculous “invisible hand” just reacts to what will be within it’s immediate grasp. I think the current meltdown is at least some evidence to that thought.

  • I have never really understood the animus some feel toward “fat cat” business giants as opposed to the “workers.” The fact is that you can’t have one without the other and attempts to punish one and help the other aren’t going to work out too well. The best thing you can do for the “workers” is to ensure they have a stable job and you know what? That is going to mean the helping the business giants who pay their salaries.

  • Jeff, the difference between Obama’s violation of the Constitution vs. those attributed to Bush is that Obama’s is clear, present and vivid, whereas Bush’s alleged violations range from the speculative to the imagined (and most of those alleged are merely individual rights issues, rather than the far more important structural principles for which the left has never had any fondness and doesn’t even pretend to today). Most of what the left has, in conclusory fashion, deemed unconstitutional has turned out to be a conflict between arguable positions — the application to the speech and debate clause to Bill Jefferson, for example, or the historical reach of habeas at issue in the Boumedienne case — or complete misapprehension of what the Constitution does and doesn’t say. There’s no hypocrisy here on my part, either, and it’s foolish of you to suggest it. To the extent that Bush has violated the Constitution (and there are examples – the Hamdi case, for example), I entirely agree that he should condemned – but only to the extent that he actually has, and those claims are mostly vaporous, it seems to me.

  • What nonsense. The honeymoon is going well. Both conservatives and liberals have applauded the competence of Obama’s team, and its orderly transition. Those here in the so-called “conservative” camp (big debt, big spending, torture, war etc) are chomping at the bit for Obama to fail. Well, rave on. Just as Gates will perform admirably when given a DIFFERENT tune to march to, so will the Clintonites, including Hillary. Or they’ll be gone.

    That’s my read of the elusive tea leaves.

    As for “fat cats” vs. “workers”, I’m not sure if you’re being intentionally obtuse or really don’t get it. Since Reagan took office, declared “morning in America” and started borrowing trillions of our kids’ money and shoveling it into the pockets of the rich, the US has reached the biggest wealth gap in history. Every such expanding wealth gap in the past has led to the collapse of an empire. Predictably, but not to “conservatives” ours is now collapsing.

    “Borrow and spend” was never better than “tax and spend”. Now, we’re in such a precarious position that PayGo won’t even work. For now, the economy will only improve if “workers” have money to spend. “Fat cats” already have plenty of money, and in case you haven’t noticed, they simply don’t spend enough to support the economy.

    Meanwhile, in the GOP war on our children, we have an estimated 1.5 trillion backlog in infrastructure maintenance, without ANY spending to actually modernize our infrastructure to compete with such visionary giants (heh) as Korea and India, who both rule in terms of tech infrastructure.

    We’ve plumbed the depths of the orgy of unbridled greed and corruption, and we are no longer the world leader in anything. Except weapon sales. Name another single industry in which we compete. Not cars, electronics, computers, textiles, shoes, pharmaceuticals, optics, even aircraft. Service? Ha. Not call centers, accounting, marketing, design.

    With no one buying, and everyone terrified of losing their jobs, what to do? Obama, like FDR, says let’s get to work rebuilding America. When we come out of the fiscal depths you “free market” blind men have cast us into, we’ll be better able to compete in the world market. But we’ll never get there your way. The GOP mantra “privatize, deregulate, cut social spending” is how we got here. Deregulation = corruption and abuse. Shafting “workers” and the environment (deregulate and let the market decide) in an attempt to let big businesses compete with China will fail. Every time. Do we want to compete by letting Chinese labor rates set ours? Or Bangladeshi environmental standards? Never mind the devastation to our country this would cause, we can’t afford it. Workers without money means no buying, no wealth, no growth.

    Nowhere was the contempt for future generations more vivid than the “drill baby drill” mantra, which restated, is “drain America first”. We’ve used up 2/3 of our oil. It’s like we have pounded down 4 beers in our six pack and opened the fifth. “Drill baby drill” is the perfect expression of utter selfishness and greed. Conservatives want to open the last can of beer before their kids are even old enough to drink. Shameful.

  • Obama did not win as a progressive?? You’ve got to be kidding.

    Obama redefined the word ‘progressive’ into the uber-left margins of the political landscape. It’s why the masses swooned and the fringe was frenzied. The oceans will lower & the planet will heal! Hope n Change, baby.

    It’s why you’re writing this ‘triangulation’ post. Lowered expectations. He maybe kinda sorta isn’t the one we’ve been waiting for. The frenzied fringe will be calling for his hide before his term is out.

    You are correct on the other point though. He will not govern as a progressive. Because he knows history, he will govern as an opportunist. It’s his M.O. That’s ~his history.

    But don’t say he didn’t win as a ‘progressive’.

  • kritt11

    In order to lead the entire country he has to reach out to conservatives and to the moderate middle. No change will last long that doesn’t have the backing of BOTH parties, and we cannot afford to spend the next 4 years engaged in partisan tussling.

    Take your pick- centrist and triangulating or partisan and polarizing.

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