There are several articles today on Obama moving to the center. In the LA Times, Obama is shifting toward the center, several pundits discussed Obama's recent political triangulating. Will Marshall of the DLC, Thomas Mann at the Brookings Institution, and Matt Bennett of Third Way all effusively praise Obama's repudiation of his own earlier statements on NAFTA and FISA. Marshall noted that "I've been struck by the speed and decisiveness of his move to the center." Indeed. Bennett commented that Obama is "doing all he can to make sure people know he would govern as a post-partisan moderate."
I won't delve into the DLC, as that terrain has been well-trod. To give some frame of reference on Third Way and Matt Bennett, it's worth noting that Bennett destroyed the Wes Clark campaign in 2004 as communications director, was pivotal in the loss to the NRA in his role in the triangulating Americans for Gun Safety (whose founding billionaire donor was indicted for embezzlement) around 2000, and works for an organization, Third Way, whose chairman strongly pushed the privatization of Social Security from within the Democratic Party in 2005. Third Way is funded by executives by all the top Wall Street firm in business: Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and a variety of private investment, hedge fund, and private equity shops.
Bennett is such a loser and a failure that he got his start in politics working as an advance man for Michael Dukakis, and he "keeps the jumpsuit from the tank moment in his closet as a souvenir." Bennett is truly a man dedicated to ensuring that the status quo remains as is, and he's paid well by powerful financial interests to be such a loser.
The other article is in the Washington Post, and it is titled 'In Campaign, One Man's Pragmatism Is Another's Flip-Flopping'. In this article, it's Tom Daschle who puts out the moderate credentialing argument.
"Those who accomplish the most are those who don't make the perfect the enemy of the good," said former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle, a key Obama supporter. "Barack is a pragmatist. In that sense, he has a larger vision but oftentimes knows that we can't get there with one legislative effort. When these occasions arise, he is willing to accept progress, even marginal gain, as a step toward that vision."
Tom Daschle, a former Senate Majority leader, is widely liked in DC. He's considered a lovely man, wise and with a wide network of supporters and loyalists that were fighting the Clinton wing of the party in the 1990s through Congress. Of course, Daschle is also known as a key supporter of the Iraq war, co-sponsoring and jamming through the Iraq War resolution, undercutting Joe Biden's attempt to push a different resolution requiring UN authorization before the President was authorized to use force. It's possible to see this as just a bad political decision, but there's more behind the scenes.
His wife, Linda Daschle is a lobbyist for pharmaceutical industries, aerospace, and defense contractors. During her husband's time as a key political leader within the Democratic Party, she pledged to remain independent of her husband's work, but that kind of conflict of interest, with a Senate Majority leader married to a defense contracting lobbyist is pretty severe.
It's quite obvious that Daschle didn't take the conflict of interest very seriously, as he did very well after leaving the Senate in 2004, joining K Street law firm Alston and Bird to become a special advisor paid in the neighborhood of a million dollars a year to help in "the law firm's legislative and public policy group." He was recruited by another Alston and Bird's special advisor, Republican Presidential candidate Bob Dole. Daschle was an ally of corporate interests in Congress, literally married to them in fact. And outside of Congress, he reaped a rich reward.
The kicker of course, is that Alston and Bird did work lobbying on immunity for telecoms on FISA, even serving as a recruitment bed for the McCain campaign. And that's what is really going on. Bribery. Tom Daschle goes in the Washington Post and makes the argument that Obama is being pragmatic by caving to big business on a core issue of civil liberties. He preaches the virtues of bipartisanship while working at a firm whose McCain supporting lawyers also support immunity for telecom interests. Meanwhile, Daschle and his wife are and did make enormous sums of money lobbying for the firms benefiting from Obama's so-called pragmatism. It's a sick, perverted, corroded system whereby perpetual political losers like Matt Bennett and affable status quo lobbyists like Tom Daschle push their agenda through journalists like Jonathan Weisman, without any disclosure whatsoever about possible conflicts of interest. And it's bipartisan and flows through the leadership of both parties.
Tom Daschle is going to end up in a powerful position within the Obama administration, either head of HHS or Chief of Staff. He's going to use the millions he and his wife have made to throw parties, give gifts, have a wonderful life, go to important conferences like Davos, and generally preach in favor of 'moderation' and 'bipartisanship'. What's important here is that we on OpenLeft and in the blogs in general be educated about who these people really are. Tom Daschle's belief is that moderation and moving to the center is pragmatic, and it is. Or at least it is for Tom Daschle. How else would he make a million dollars a year with his friend Bob Dole?