Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Three Centrists Campaigning for President

Obama may or may not be on the verge of breaking the deadlock. In the meantime, it has occurred to me that in significant ways, all three leading candidates are rather similar, and I'm not talking about the fundamental things such as being enlightened democrats (small d) and American patriots. I am referring to the fact that - seen from afar, at any rate - all three seem to be centrists, tho each in a different way.

McCain is easy. Look at all the trouble he's having with the right wing of the Republican party, his own party. He has a history of collaborating with Democrats on things that anger some conservatives, so far as I know, and he speaks his mind irrespective of the party line.

Clinton is also a centrist, partly for her ability to stay away from lost causes (didn't she support Alito's nomination?) as well as for her preference for joining large majorities (authorizing the war in Iraq is an obvious example). Charles Krauthammer wrote a while ago that while he'd never vote for her, he could live with her presidency because she lacks principles and will do what seems expedient. The New Republic some months ago ran a profile about her claiming the opposite: that she, unlike the others, thinks not like a candidate but like a president. (Sorry I haven't looked for the links to these articles. Lack of time this evening).

And Obama? All this talk about change and everything? Sounds kind of radical, or progressive, and not boring centrist at all, which is why the folks at Daily Kos are so fired up about him. But my reading of him says otherwise. True, the very possibility of a black president is revolutionary, but his talk, the tone of his sentences, is inclusive and all-American, and therefore fundamentally centrist.

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