In the NY Daily News, former Senator and all-around Good Guy Bob Kerry explains exactly what the model is for an Obama presidency that would make me very happy and comfortable.
By my lights, the primary threat to the success of a President Obama will come from some Democrats who, emboldened by the size of their congressional majority, may try to kill trade agreements, raise taxes in ways that will destroy jobs, repeal the Patriot Act and spend and regulate to high heaven.
This is where Obama’s persona is invaluable. He can withstand the arguments and pressure of the liberal wing in the Democratic caucus if, once elected, he is guided by the best instincts he has displayed on the campaign trail.
I believe this is likely because Obama will surround himself with professionals, not ideologues or acolytes. An unprecedented number of patriotic, politically savvy and centrist men and women have been part of his campaign team – and are therefore likely to make up President Obama’s governing team.
I believe this is likely because of who Obama is. Republicans have tried desperately to paint the man as a secret radical. But the imagery just doesn’t connect; Americans see a man who is calm, respectful, considerate and careful. That is just what the doctor ordered for our politics.
Last, I believe this is likely because Obama understands that to succeed, he must make peace with John McCain just as he has done with Hillary Clinton. When this historic election concludes, I expect the two to sit down, without precondition, and negotiate an agenda of reform.
But that will only be the beginning. To build up the political capital for the kinds of changes needed in these difficult times, Obama will need to communicate the following to Congress, in no uncertain terms: The Democrats have not won a mandate for all their policies. Rather, the American people have resoundingly registered their frustration with a failed status quo, and the next President must chart a new, less partisan course.
That’s what I’ve been talking about. If Obama can do this – can govern as someone whose values come from the left side of the Democratic party, but whose governing style comes from the kind of inclusive, conciliatory positions he took early in his campaign – then I’ll have made a good bet in supporting him.
Because that’s what I’m betting on, in the face of a mixed bag of evidence.