Monday, January 25, 2010

Realigning a Pivot

The aftermath of the Massachusetts senate election has produced the predictable flood of punditry expounding on its import with a significant subset of opinion devoted to whether or not Obama should "realign" or perform a political "pivot" back toward the center. The most salient problem with that approach is that it is likely to enrage his progressive base and be entirely unconvincing to centrist and conservative skeptics. Regardless of the advisability of such a course I am not sure that it would even be possible for Obama to attempt.

Obama is a thoroughgoing creature of the modern Liberal weltanshaung, a perfectly adapted swimmer in the warm comforting sea of progressive pieties and emotions, and a shining exemplar of the near monolithic leftist intellectual certitude of the Academy. How can such a person consider even slight political movement in the direction of the reviled "Party of No"? The short answer is that he really can't and evidence is provided by his risible assertion that his programmatics have failed because he has neglected to keep the American people adequately informed of the exquisiteness of his legislative efforts. In effect he thinks that a sufficient number of rhetorical spoonfuls of sugar can still make the progressive medicine go down.

He's not that good. Is anyone that good? Is there a progressive Professor Harold Hill out there silver-tongued enough to sell the program to a still largely center-right voting population? Further is anyone good enough to not only sell the product but to sneak the sale past the legion of gimlet-eyed Mayor Shinns of conservative punditry? The NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, NPR barbershop quartet has proven ineffective in distracting the populace from the reality of the neo-Music Man's honeyed entreaties.

It appears that the public was fooled by the celebrity of Obama into ignoring his clear progressive tendencies and it also appears that in winning the election Obama was equally fooled into thinking that broad public approval for an historic expansion of government was finally at hand. A fickle public may, for a while, buy the Snake Oil but stands ever ready with the tar and feathers for national politicians of extremist bent. Just ask George Wallace and Ross Perot.

Pivoting towards the center will do little but bring out the pitchforks of the left and the sneers of the right and will send Obama's poll numbers ever southward. To be chastened or humbled by all this will require not a mere pivot or realignment but a wholesale abandonment of the effects of an entire lifetime spent basking in the comforting currents of the Tropic of Progressivism. That's about as likely as a clandestine love tryst involving Rush Limbaugh and Nancy Pelosi.

A lifelong doctrinaire progressive such as the prez tends to think of conservatives not as the opposition but as the enemy--an aggressive insurgency whose rhetorical IEDs threaten the ultimate triumph of the caring liberal educrat intelligentsia. Obama may extend a tentative olive branch to the GOP but I feel sure that gurgling away in his mind/triangulation computer are thoughts not of how they can be accommodated but rather how they can be cleverly co-opted and soothingly enticed away from the enemy camp. He will find that there really are differences that will fail to be reconciled. Selling the GOP on any part of a huge expansion of the power of the federal government will be a considerably tougher sell than merely getting folks to pull a lever in a voting booth.

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