I swear to God the only people on the planet who have figured out that Obama is a rather mainstream moderate, center-left on some issues, center-right on others, but definitely not a wildly transformative character, are me and Daniel Larison. I seriously am beginning to think, reading some of the lefty blogs lately, that the only people who thought Obama was a radical liberal were the National Journal, a few talk radio hosts, and the progressive wing of the party. Obama has never once showed any inclination to up-end the establishment, he has consistently worked through the establishment. Harvard Law Review, anyone? Con. Law prof at the University of Chicago? This is not Ward Churchill we are talking about, folks…
Say what you want about the way his election was run, because that truly was transformative. Elections will never be the same after the campaign Team Obama ran. But if you really think Obama is a screeching liberal, you haven’t been paying attention and are going to be really upset. They guy is a technocratic pragmatist, he is cool and calculating and calm, and he shrewdly picks his battles. Folks like Larison, and, most definitely Bacevich, worry he is entirely too establishment. I think he is the best we have, so we go with him
I think there were a very others who figured it out (Andrew Sullivan, myself, Scott) but the point stands nonetheless–and Larison has been on the ball with that one for some time.
The lefter wing of the Democratic Party made the same basic mistake that David Freddoso in his book–to confuse Obama’s years as a very liberal Illinois State Senator (in a very liberal district) with how he will govern when he becomes president. But that was because Obama works within the system he gets, and he represented a very liberal district, hence his views and policies were shaded in that direction. But he is long since out of that world. Since I don’t go totally for the Spenglerian Buchananite paleoconservativism, I also agree with Cole that I think BHO is the best we’ve got, so we go with it. Though really far from perfect, but I actually have a sense of calm and trust in the fact that he looks serious about actually governing, that he will play the game. Remembering that the presidency is only one among a multitude of political players (no imperial presidency or cult for me thank you very much).
Update I: Coates smelled the coffee too.