The not-so-good news is that expectations are sky-high and that some of his supporters will press him to throw caution to the wind and emulate FDR's first 100 days, or LBJ's feverish legislative pace in 1965 and 1966. This is a temptation Obama would do well to resist. Despite today's crisis environment, there are economic and political limits to government activism that the president-elect will ignore at his peril...
The more ambitious the agenda, the more likely it is to fall victim to entrenched political realities, and failing to strike a workable balance between ambition and political feasibility would invite a repetition of the 1994 mid-term disaster that left Bill Clinton on the defensive for the remainder of his presidency.
Galston joins Doug Schoen and Mark Penn in forwarding two pernicious memes. The first is the Dirty Fucking Hippie meme, cloaked in the declaration that "some of his supporters will press him to throw caution to the win." That is, those who support Obama are crazy leftists who a President Obama, if he is Serious, must ignore.
The second meme is the "Bill Clinton Initially Failed Because He Tried to Govern Like a Marxist" story. This is used as the basis to claim that history proves Obama must tack to the hard right if he wins.
Of course, the real story is what a Republican corporate lobbyist told the Politico yesterday:
He recalled the arrival of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Rather than going after business, Clinton presented a moderate image and reached out to the corporate community.
Clinton's goal was to "co-opt a portion of the business community" through his positions on free trade and other issues, said this lobbyist. And the strategy worked pretty effectively with global corporations.
That's what actually happened - Clinton did exactly what Galston and his fellow conservatives want Obama to do: He tacked to the corporate right with things like NAFTA, demoralized his base, and then his party got crushed in the mid-term elections, crippling the rest of his presidency.
The same thing could happen to a President Obama if he follows that path. But as we've seen over the last two weeks, there is building pressure on him to follow that path. Indeed, just this morning on Fox News, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) said the most important thing for a President Obama to do is appease McCain voters.
Fingers crossed for the election tonight - but even more work starts tomorrow, should we win.