Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Which Obama Will Show Up Tonight?

So Obama goes on TV tonight (or is it tomorrow??) with his half-hour broadcast where he’ll try to close the deal. What will we see? The "audacious" Obama of last year, or the relatively cautious Obama we’ve seen since mid-summer? As several observers have commented, Obama decided to become relatively boring as a way of making himself into Bill Cosby/Dr. Huxtable. Occasionally the mask has slipped, when surprised by Joe the Plumber. (Obama doesn’t have to worry about such pesky questions from Joe the Reporter.)

The cautious approach would counsel for a bland, soothing broadcast. I’m betting, however, that Obama goes for it. I think he’ll try to strike bold notes, maybe even making a broad partisan appeal for a strong Democratic Congress to enable him to implement his mandate, rather than repeating his "reach across the aisle" sentiments. This is something Reagan didn’t do in 1984, much to the chagrin of many conservatives. It would be a high risk strategy, as it could easily backfire and cause some voters to split their ticket as a hedge against Obama’s unknown inclinations. It would be a sign to me that he really does intend to govern as far to the left as possible. With a big enough majority, he doesn’t have to reach across the aisle.

Jeanne Cummings of the Politico thinks it may be extravagant overkill.

Discussions - 4 Comments

With a big enough majority, he doesn’t have to reach across the aisle.

Sure. But the hope here for Democrats(as was yours in 2004 during what this blog called the election of a "rolling realignment") is that the Republicans will have to change up their platform and disagree with the Democrats on different things. Major issue topics will have been electorally decided for awhile (abortion, health care, war in Iraq) and will be pushed to the back burner. I think the Democrats would ideally like to see splits on things like single-payer health care or not single-payer health care? Late term abortion or no late term abortion? Etc.

So I don't think you'll be convincing many Democrats (or maybe even left-leaning Independents) to vote for McCain in order to keep some kind of balance.

Matt, the argument against undivided, Democratic control with supermajorities in both houses of Congress is not directed toward persuading committed liberals (whether formally registered as Democrats or independents) to vote GOP. Committed liberals would be the ideological group that would most welcome that kind of development. I suspect that the argument is mostly directed at conservatives who are thinking of sitting out the election and moderates who would be suspicious of giving one party totally unchecked control of the federal government. I don't think the argument actually works. It sounds to me like a loser's lament, but its appeal to people on the left is not the measure of its effectivness.

Matt, I'm so sorry. The comment # 2 should be by Pete. I typed the wrong word into that box. Mea culpa.

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