More on Obama's transformative progressivism:
The scene is set for a tussle between the two candidates for the support of some of the sharpest and most independent minds in politics. Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar, leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee.
Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain's closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary. Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a "stretch".
Hagel and Lugar are both rank conservatives. Despite Hagel's support for partial withdrawal from Iraq, there is simply no way to describe either of them as centrist, much less progressive. Hagel's lifetime score on progressive punch is 9.27 out of 100, while Lugar's is 12.46 out of 100. Both of them are only very slightly to the left of the craziest wingers out there.
Obama sends out regular signals that he will govern in a very centrist fashion. Running Harry and Louise ads and appointing Bush Dog Jim Cooper as a spokesperson on health care make that obvious enough. His praise of Reagan and bragging that he is more bipartisan than the DLC also make that clear. He has no problem letting you know that he's "not one of those people who cynically believes Bush went in only for the oil," that he isn't a "anti-military, 70s love-in." He scolds unknown progressives for thinking that "every mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy," and reminded everyone that Social Security faces a crisis. Now, he is sending out signals that will be appoint Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar to incredibly powerful posts such as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense.
Here is the thing: what counter-indications had Obama given that he will govern as a progressive? I honestly can't think of any. He clearly must be blowing some sort of progressive activist dog whistle, given the caucus and support he has received, but I haven't heard the call. I get the "yes, we can," bit about how large numbers of grassroots and redstate Democrats are rebelling against a Clintonista Democratic Party that takes them for granted. Further, the identity politics in play are somewhat obvious. I also think I get that, in addition to the activists and identity groups he has attracted, the third major component of Obama's coalition are anti-establishment, but not necessary leftist, Democratic voters who also when for Bradley and Dean. Finally, in the contemporary political environment, looking like the outside is certainly an advantage. However, what I don't get are ideological progressives who think that Obama is one, too. Outside of telecom policy, his policy platforms are pretty much center-left wonkish boilerplate, and his rhetoric is straight down the middle. In short, I just don't see Obama as a transformative progressive at all.
If I am missing something, I don't know where to look for it. Chuck Hagel as Sec Def is just the latest indication that Obama is more about placating High Broderism, Tim Russert and the Washington Post editorial board than he is about transformative progressive change. I'll work hard to help elect him, but I also don't intend to delude myself about what to expect when he becomes President.