Later today, Obama will give his inaugural speech, and like most such speeches, it will be full of bipartisan platitudes. That’s fine, if par for the course (although, for a counterexample, FDR’s 1932 address serves as a clarion call without all of the Cumbaya crap). Nonetheless, Obama has one very important political task ahead of him: getting rank-and-file Democrats to trust Democratic party leaders.
Right now, I think most active Democrats, whether they be conservative, moderate, or liberal, do not trust Democrats to do the right thing by themselves. To me, this is a perfect reasonable assumption: with the exception of the Social Security ‘debate’ of 2006, the Democrats have essentially capitulated on every issue of note. At this point, I wouldn’t trust any Democratic politician unless I had the deal signed in blood and a relative as a goodwill hostage (Note to Secret Service: I’m not advocating kidnapping anybody–it’s a metaphor*).
For the last couple of months, we’ve heard the Mandarin Class who suffer from Compulsive Centrist Order prattle on about how Obama can’t be held hostage by his ‘liberal’ base (never mind that these ‘liberal’ policies enjoy plurality or majority support). One lesson that the Villagers never recount from the Clinton era–because they have a vested interest in not doing so–is that Clinton hurt himself by alienating the Democratic core. If it weren’t for the savagery of the movement conservatives, most Democrats wouldn’t have rallied around Clinton the way they did.
Like it or not, Obama too is affected by Clinton fatigue: Democrats will be watching far more closely and cutting him a lot less slack until Obama delivers some good policies.
Don’t forget to dance with the girl that brung ya.
*Never underestimate security-paranoia induced stupidity.