The Spine

Tough Talk To The Neo-cons, Almost All Phobics

Dan Gerstein, a long-time top aide to Joe Lieberman, tells the neo-cons and the
cons, too, for that matter, to calm down. And look and listen. Writing in
Forbes.com, Gerstein argues that Barack Obama--because of his character,
political skill and wisdom, and grasp of what the American people need and want--will govern from the center/a bit center-left.A repudiation of the
Republican religion of untamed free market capitalism requires no less than
that. In any case, that's where Obama does stand.

It would be just as serious
a mistake for conservatives to hold on to a self-deluding canard that
Obama is the most liberal senator or president ever. Yes, Obama is a
progressive who believes in government as an agent of change. But look
closely at his policies. They are almost no different than those of Hillary Clinton,
whom you lionized as a moderate until the day she lost. He's against
gay marriage, pro charter schools and voted for tort reform. He tells
parents to turn off the TV set and calls for the biggest Democratic tax
cut since John F. Kennedy. This is hardly the second coming of Trotsky.

Moreover, with most of the conservatives going around
pleading for the U.S. government to intervene and save the investment banks, the
auto companies and God-only-knows what other industries, we may be close to
public ownership of the means of production. This is already before Obama and
yet the climax of the Bush custodianship of American capitalism.One more
point: Obama's was the most dazzlingly skilled election campaign I recall, and I
recall many. He will not gratuitously campaign against the American
grain.

If you stop to think about
it, we all spent so much time talking about Obama's two ostensibly
major gaffes--Bittergate and Joe the Plumber--in large part because
there were so few other instances when he said or did controversial or
confidence-rattling things. Obama was especially sensitive to the fact
that any flash of anger would fan the flames of old racial stereotypes.
And so he remained unimaginably unflappable throughout the past
pressure-cooked two years--which, in crunch time of the campaign,
became as much an asset as a shield.

PS: The Arthur Schlesinger
alluded to in the text was not "little Arthur" of Kennedy fame but his father,
Arthur Schlesinger Sr., also from Harvard but never the cuckold of power.

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