[Obama] gets to be the calm at the center of the storm, providing his usual striking contrast to the seething stew of preachers, radio screamers, and Gingrich acolytes who will be making themselves ever more tiresome to Mr. and Mrs. Heartland with their ranting jeremiads. I don’t blame conservatives for opposing Sotomayor even though they know that she’d only be replaced by someone equally liberal if they did somehow manage to derail her (liberals did the same with Roberts and Alito, after all), but if they’re smart they’ll realize that the usual shriekfest is playing right into Obama’s hands.
Drum’s Obama reminds me of Reagan, who drew his own “striking contrast” to the “seething stew” of his day, with its Vietnam War protestors turned anti-defense-build-up activists, et. al. In turn, the comparison begs the question: Would Bush/Cheney have been more effective if they had not followed Karl Rove’s advice and not played to their seething-stew allies, but (as Reagan did) to the non-seething majority instead?
Granted, Bush/Cheney suffered as much from outright policy gaffes as they did from stylistic faux pas, so no, Drum’s guidance would likely not have saved them from themselves. But the lesson in tone is still worth considering, especially for would-be shapers of tomorrow’s GOP. They can feed the purist screamers — and risk continued atrophy — or they can mount a more reasoned, durable challenge, in calmer, more soothing voices … and see where it takes them.