Dems' Election Day Message: Our First Responsibility Is to Appease Republicans

by: David Sirota

Tue Nov 04, 2008 at 13:48

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) delivered Democrats' election-day message this morning on Fox News. Officially speaking for the Obama campaign, McCaskill told Fox that Barack Obama's first order of business as president is to appease Republicans and start filling his cabinet with them.

(Video and transcript in the extended entry--Chris)

David Sirota :: Dems' Election Day Message: Our First Responsibility Is to Appease Republicans
I'm not making this up. Here's the key exchange:

FOX: If [Obama] wins tonight, what do you expect to happen Wednesday Thursday Friday from a President-elect Obama?

MCCASKILL: He will surprise America how quickly he will try to reach out to the millions of people who are voting for John McCain today - and the milions of people who have questions about his leadership. He'll want to reassure them, and he'll want to find Republicans to work with him in his cabinet.

FOX: You don't predict it's going to be "we have a mandate, were going to govern from the left" you think its going to be more of a bipartisan lets-sort of heal and bring everbody together?

MCCASKILL: He will pleasantly surprise everyone who votes for John McCain today.

Ummm...what about the millions of people who, ya know, voted for Obama? Don't we count for something? I mean McCaskill's statement (which, by the way, I don't ascribe to Obama himself) is really not encouraging for the millions of voters who are supporting Obama because he's a self-described progressive Democrat. And while McCaskill's message is shrouded in the argot of conciliation, it's not merely a conciliatory statement - it's a partisan and ideological one.

McCaskill is channeling the "Center-Right Nation" meme we've been seeing through the whole media in the lead up to this election. Again, no matter how big Obama may win in this ideologically polarized race, no matter how many polls show America is a fundamentally progressive nation on major issues, we are told that the only Responsible and Serious thing to do is for a President Obama to govern as a mainstream corporate Republican.

What this analysis fails to consider - or deliberately ignores - is that the entire "center" has shifted. So while I agree with folks like Salon's Joan Walsh that there's no conceptual problem with an Obama presidency being populated by "centrists," there is a conceptual problem if those "centrists" aren't actually in the center of American public opinion. That is, if these "centrists" are actually corporatists whose free market fundamentalism on economic issues is well to the right of public opinion.

Sure, Democrats seem poised to make gains in "red" states and "red" districts. But as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) displayed so well in his silly and stupid declaration about the Patriot Act in 2006 - many of these "red" states and "red" districts are incredibly progressive in supporting strong privacy/civil liberties protections and opposing corporate-written trade policies championed by so-called "centrist" Democrats and Republicans alike. Come on out here to the traditionally "red" swaths of Colorado or Montana, and try running for office bragging about NAFTA or the Patriot Act - ie. D.C.'s definition of "centrism" - and you better get ready to get crushed at the polls.

I would say I was surprised that McCaskill decided to use her role as Democrats' election-day spokesperson to insist that a Democratic win will prioritize the very Republican governance that has become so unpopular. But then, I've been around this crap for too long to be surprised.

It seems no matter how hated George W. Bush and the Republican Party are in the country at large, no matter how an election may pivot on that hatred, the political Establishment of both parties is ideologically loyal to conservative corporatism. Indeed, that is the power of money - the power of the hostile takeover, if you will. And that means the uprising that this election season has stoked will need to become all the more intense starting tomorrow if we are to make sure a (hopefully) President-elect Obama doesn't spend the first days after the election constructing another conservative Presidency - only this time, building it with bricks and mortar marked "progressive." I don't think Obama himself actually wants to do this, but we see how much pressure is already being put on him. We're going to have to help him fight back.


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Step Back a Sec (4.00 / 2)
I think you are overreacting to this.  Obama explains quite clearly in Audacity of Hope how to "reach out to everyone" and govern progressively at the same time.  It's all part of the plan.

McCaskill went too far (0.00 / 0)
in trying to please the Fox News crowd. We know Obama will try to unify the country if he wins, we know he will have a few token Republicans in his cabinet, but saying that he will "pleasantly surprise" them is a bit too much for me.

Priority number one should be to "pleasantly surprise" the progressives who have been out in the cold for eight years and delivered those critical caucus victories to Obama.

That said, I'm not fretting too much about this happy talk. Even George W. Bush's people talked about unifying the country and working with Democrats back in 2000. It was all election time bullshit, as we know. I think Obama will be much more openminded to Republicans, just as he was to Joe the Unlicensed Republican Plumber in Ohio, but that doesn't mean he'll take his marching orders from them.

The fact that Obama picked Biden for VP and John Podesta to manage his transition are very good signs to me. Imagine if he had picked Evan Bayh for VP and Mike McCurry to lead his transition?

I think it's benign (4.00 / 1)
Obama has an incredibly low threshold to "appease" the McCain voters - at least in principle. All he has to do is not fill his cabinet with Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson Jr, Richard Ayers and bunch of Muslims brought over from Gitmo. Since he's not going to do that anyway, it's a piece of cake for him.

That seems to be what they're afraid of. If he appoints some rational people - which is exactly what he IS going to do - he'll have met their (stated) standard.

Of course that won't satisfy the idiots and ideologues who hate Obama because he's not "one of them" and would never ever support him no matter how many concessions he makes - which is a good argument for making no "concessions" at all, btw.

Oh come on. (3.00 / 4)
You were doing so well.  Don't be a drama queen, David.  The unity talk is always the order of the day on Election Day.

After getting on Fox News twice and "underperforming" for the Dems (4.00 / 1)
now David you want to offer the Missouri Senator some suggestions for talking to Fox's audience?  Give me a break.  Aren't you wise enough to know she was campaigning on that call?  

You mean (0.00 / 0)
Like these two?

Ya...I really didn't represent progressives...I'm such a Republican hack, really.  

[ Parent ]
I think he did a great job representing my views... (4.00 / 3)
... and I think if you want an example of how not to go into the next four years, take a look at our fine Democratic Congress in 2006.  They were given the mandate to end the Occupation of Iraq and they didn't take it and run with it.  

We get a lot more done when we don't start by making sure we haven't upset the losers.  How do you think George Bush managed to do as much damage in these past eight years.  He threw that "reach across the aisle" mentality out the window immediately after he was inaugurated (Kyoto Agreement and closed door sessions with lobbyists to create the worst Energy Plan the planet has ever been subjected to).

I'm not advocating for governing in the same exact way Bush did but lets keep in mind that we're not going to win 2012 if Obama doesn't get cracking to fix things the way he sees fit ASAP.

[ Parent ]
also.. if you were ever behind Barack, your feelings would be relevant (4.00 / 2)
but you haven't been, and now you are coming out of the woodwork demanding him to 100% satisfy your progressive demands...  it's too funny reading your rants...

I think he's trying to blunt the right wing attack machine (4.00 / 1)
I'd be worried too, but the fact that Bob Rubin and Jared Bernstein coauthored a NYT editorial published yesterday gives me hope.  Obama just may be a master at bringing people together to move his agenda forward, which just may be pretty progressive.  Axlerod's a pretty progressive dude as are a lot Obama's early inner circle.

And the republicans in the cabinet may end up being people like Tom Kean Sr. as Secretary of Education.  That would work just fine.  

come on david, the polls are still open in missouri (4.00 / 1)
besides, what do you want her to say?

"It's the night of the long knives! Moowhahahaha!"

Take a deep breath.  

How about (4.00 / 6)
How about - the first thing Barack Obama will do is start trying to make his campaign promises to end the war and enact universal health care a reality.

Seems to me that's pretty easy, progressive and sound-bytable.

[ Parent ]
David give it a freaking rest until tomorrow at least! (4.00 / 3)
Geezus man, you are the human buzzkill.  For God's sake -- IT'S ELECTION DAY!  Can you and your soulmate Maddow wait 24 hours before you continue trashing the guy???

Reposting another comment (0.00 / 0)
Yet another fine example of a commenter not reading the post they are commenting on:


I don't ascribe to Obama himself...I don't think Obama himself actually wants to do this, but we see how much pressure is already being put on him. We're going to have to help him fight back.

Please try reading posts before commmenting. Because had you read, you would have seen I wasn't "trashing the guy." I wasn't talking about Obama at would have known that had you read.

[ Parent ]
This doesn't answer the question (0.00 / 0)
For someone who's always so quick in accusing other people of lacking proper reading skills, it's quite surprising how often you miss the obvious point of a comment. Weeferdog rightly points out that there is no need to make this a topic today, on election day. And your quote doesn't answer this at all.

I mean, inauguration day is on January 20th, right? Still pretty enough time to make progressive voices heard. Why start today? Can't we concentrate on the ongoing election, pls?

[ Parent ]
Well, if the Obama campaign (0.00 / 0)
wanted someone to kiss Republican ass, they sure picked the right person.  McCaskill has done nothing but kiss Republican ass ever since she won election as a progressive.  She's not.  She's an ass kisser.

By the way, David, when you wrote, "I'm not making this up," you somehow neglected to provide the quote that said, "Our first responsibility is to appease Republicans."  I would suggest that after voting, you have a couple drinks and chill out for a couple hours.

Misleading headlines is yellow journalism (0.00 / 0)
I resent blog posts that have misleading and hyperbolic headlines that totally distort the content and substance of that to which it refers. It's bombastic, demagogic, yellow journalism.

One of the worst practitioners was Jon Amato of Crooks & Liars, which I stopped visiting long ago for that very reason. A typical headline for one of his posted videos would be "Dem Spokesman Causes Hannity's Head to Explode all over Set" Of course, the video would only consist of a partisan exchange typical of most any Fox news segment.

Slacking toward the apocalypse

[ Parent ]
I've got a feeling that you will be angry for most (4.00 / 1)
of an Obama administration.  

Believe me (0.00 / 0)
After election day, I'm probably going away for a long time.

[ Parent ]
Going to Canada if Obama wins??? (0.00 / 0)
Uh, well, ok, I could understand the folks who promised to do this when W. won in 2004, but this time? Just because Obama may not be progressive enough?

[ Parent ]
In warfare, (4.00 / 1)
when you have broken the enemy line, you turn and whither the smaller elements.

i wouldn't be (0.00 / 0)
too concerned especially since the polls are open in missou and around the nation, he has to reach out but it all depends on how angry the gop is and how vindictive they are as to how conciliatory obama is to the right, he will unify, but i see a person who will make the opposition pay for their partisanship.

ps - obama must have agreed to this so if you supported him you must let him govern and politic as he sees fit, if we are not satisfied there's another election process to vent our frustrations.

The election is still on. (0.00 / 0)
This is in part, election day messaging.
It would be stupid to do otherwise.
We'll know by January how Obama will govern--if he wins. Let's wait an see, what else are we going to do?

Well, consider the venue (0.00 / 0)
She's trying to make a last-minute pitch to undecideds, to get their vote, and to soft Obama leaners, to keep it, by appealing to their need to have their "this is a center-right country" fantasies reinforced. This is Fox that she said this on, after all, not MSNBC. It's dishonest pandering, of course, but politicians target their message to their audience in elections--especially if they're the type who need to be pandered to (e.g. dumb Fox viewers).

Personally, I think that it's a fool's errand, especially at this point, and dishonorable, but that's what presidential candidates and their surrogates have always done.

I also suspect that while he'll almost certainly reach out to congressional Repubs (especially in the senate, because he'll need them to break filibusters) and have some in his cabinet (Team of Rivals and all that), and not be as progressive as we'd like, he's not going to govern in a center-right manner just to please Repubs. If he does govern center-right, it'll be because he wants to govern that way, not because he feels compelled to do so. He'll be going in with a mandate, and will make the absolute most of it.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

and this surprises you? (0.00 / 0)
C'mon, really, you're surprised?

After FISA? Really?

Bitching about this, today of all days?

I was super-pissed over FISA, but still gladly voted for Obama today; given O's history of incongruence between electioneering messages and Congressional actions, the McCaskill talk on FOX is hardly a shocker.

I may yet come to believe in Obama's ideas about "change." But I surely have no illusions that he'll suddenly become more progressive (or conservative, for that matter) after he's elected.  


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