Thursday, January 28, 2010


Ross Douthat, one of the "reasonable" right-wingers at The New York Times, blogging the State of the Union address:

In the wake of the Massachusetts results, there was a lot of chatter among conservative pundits about whether Barack Obama was even capable of executing a strong pivot to the center....

For my part, I figured that a pivot to the center was the plan all along -- or at least, that it became the plan once Obama's poll numbers started to sag, and the chances of steamrolling the whole Democratic agenda through Congress in his first two years evaporated....

But this pivot, if that's what the White House planned, was contingent on a health care victory. Instead, the legislation has entered a weird political limbo, and taken Obama's presidency into limbo with it.

That was certainly the impression left by tonight's State of the Union, which struck me as the speech of a President who doesn't know what narrative he's selling. The eloquence was there, but the tone veered wildly -- now self-critical, now self-justifying; now scolding, now conciliatory -- and so did the substance....

If I'm reading this right, to Douthat, a "pivot to the center" means no "self-justifying" and no "scolding" at all -- just self-criticism and conciliation. There's simply no overlap between anything Obama has done, or has advocated, and the center. In order to be a centrist, he has to renounce every bit of his past. In order to be a centrist, he has to agree 100% with the right-wing party.

I suppose it's naive of me to even bring this to your attention. This is simply the way it is, even for "reasonable" right-wingers.

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