23 Nov 2008

Obama’s Fatal Dilemma

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It’s sad that we had to lose this year, but conservatives and Republicans can console themselves with Barack Obama’s unhappy prospects based upon the irreconcilable dilemma facing his presidency.

If he takes a thoroughly “progressive” course, agreeable to the democrat party’s leftwing base, he will assuredly produce economic calamity domestically and US humiliation in foreign affairs à la Carter, and he will then have a snowball’s chance in Hell of being re-elected.

On the other hand, if he tacks to the center, he will bitterly disappoint that extremist and highly volatile leftist base, which will turn upon him like the Furies, ultimately over time bringing into active and hostile opposition both the media and the community of fashion. In that case, like Lyndon Johnson, he will become a discredited, failed, and reviled president, unable to defeat primary challenges from the left, and not even able to run for a second term.

Will it be Door 1 or Door 2, President Obama?

As the Telegraph reports, his appointments of supporters of the war in Iraq signal a centrist direction, and the natives at Daily Kos are already becoming restless.

Mr Obama has moved quickly in the last 48 hours to get his cabinet team in place, unveiling a raft of heavyweight appointments, in addition to Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.

But his preference for General James Jones, a former Nato commander who backed John McCain, as his National Security Adviser and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a supporter of the war, to run the Homeland Security department has dismayed many of his earliest supporters.

The likelihood that Mr Obama will retain George W Bush’s Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, has reinforced the notion that he will not aggressively pursue the radical withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq over the next 16 months and engagement with rogue states that he has pledged.

Chris Bowers of the influential OpenLeft.com blog complained: “That is, over all, a centre-right foreign policy team. I feel incredibly frustrated. Progressives are being entirely left out of Obama’s major appointments so far.”

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos site, the in-house talking shop for the anti-war Left, warned that Democrats risk sounding “tone deaf” to the views of “the American electorate that voted in overwhelming numbers for change from the discredited Bush policies.”

A spokesman for the President-elect was forced to confirm that Mr Obama holds to his previous views. “His position on Iraq has not changed and will not change.”

But the growing disillusionment underlines the fine line Mr Obama must walk between appearing to reach out to former opponents and keeping his grassroot supporters happy.

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