Jay Cost looks at the collapse of the Fiscally Sane/Socially Moderate coalition Bill Clinton put together, and wonders what’s next for the Democrats:
Will President Obama and his Democratic allies adapt this time around? That remains to be seen. Staying the course might leave him with little more than the McGovern coalition, so the demands of electoral victory seem to require some genuine movement toward the center. But on the other hand, Obama is in office in part because of the McGovern wing of the party; all those liberals who hated Clintonian triangulation finally got the last laugh, triumphantly nominating him amid shouts of “Yes We Can!” What’s more, I suspect that President Obama actually believes he is in the political center, that he doesn’t see all the strawman nonsense as strawman nonsense. He looks over his left shoulder and really sees “the professional left,” then looks over his right shoulder and really sees “dangerous” Tea Party “extremists.” So, I don’t know…
Well, I don’t know, either, but I have my suspicions. Obama’s entire career has been a series of double-downs, especially since assuming the presidency. He seems neither ideologically or practically inclined to triangulate. And Cost’s “strawman” theory comes the closest I’ve yet read to explaining why.
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