For most of this year, so-called "centrists" have gotten their way, whether it be Ben Nelson and Susan Collins on the stimulus bill, or Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman on health-care reform. For these individual senators this may seem like a good thing, but they have given centrism a bad name. Instead of espousing reasonable, moderate solutions to complicated problems (ala the Democratic Leadership Council of old), they have chased the illusion of compromise while often failing to provide a logical rationale for their stated objectives.[snip]
Democrats say he has been maliciously libeled by a panicked right wing. Republicans say he is seeking radical left-wing changes under a bipartisan verneer. Both are right, to some extent. Mr Obama is not really a policy moderate; he campaigned, and has governed, from the centre-left of his party, not from its Blue Dog right flank. But he has, in fact, made symbolic and real outreaches to the right, only to get slapped in the face more than once. It is fair to say that he erred in believing that left-wing policy could be slipped through if it was lubricated with his signature comforting rhetoric. But he also simply underestimated the lies and smears that would be part of that pushback, "death panels" and all. Whatever happened, we have not come together around Barack Obama. He ends the year having changed policy more than politics.[snip]
Barack Obama effectively defused the entire summer's worth of racial anxiety—paranoiac rumbling on one side and anxious hang-wringery on the other—with his joke to David Letterman: "I think it's important to realise that I was actually black before the election." He has yet to find the killer quip on health-care reform or climate change, but perhaps he has it in him.