They spar in the pages of USA Today from time to time, though the point generally seems to be finding “common ground.” The headline of today’s installment (12/11/08) captures the essence of their relationship:
Centrist in Chief?
Cal and Bob like what they see and hear–so far–from President-elect Obama. A good sign: the left-wingers aren’t getting their way.
More interesting, though, is Beckel’s actual analysis:
I am amazed how many conservatives are praising Obama’s transition and how many on the left are suddenly worried that they helped elect a moderate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and any special interest groups are going to have decidedly less influence on Obama than you on the right predicted.
It is politics, which at its most practical is about seeking consensus and common ground. That means a president will, at times, disagree with his base, which is akin to jilting a lover. The scorn is deep and unforgiving. Perfect example: the reaction of the left’s Netroots folks–Daily Kos, MoveOn.org and the like–to Obama’s Cabinet choices. You don’t have to look very hard to find indignant bile. But Obama isn’t in awe, or fearful, of these folks because he has built his own Netroots machine. These left-wing blatherers don’t own him.
Obama is wisely embracing the idea of uniting people–rather than MoveOn’s tactic of dividing them.
We on the left need to own up to our contribution to the dependency class. In hindsight, despite our best intentions, many of the poverty programs of the ’60s and ’70s did breed a generation or more of people dependent on government.