Note to Obama: You Need to Rebuild Trust Within Your Own Party

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.

More like this

Of course, it's not bad policy either. Anyway, Paul Krugman is exactly right on target: If progressives had real trust in Obama's commitment to doing the right thing, the administration would have broad leeway to do deals. But the president doesn't command that kind of trust.... So progressives…
I guess the thing that's bothered me about Obama is that I can't get a read on him. Clinton I get, and she has a track record. Ditto Edwards (his record is why I'm only leaning towards him, and not endorsing him). But Obama is a complete cipher. I've argued before that a good politician acts as…
I don't mean to get all Bob Somerby on you, but Frank Rich's Sunday op-ed is ridiculous. Obama isn't acquiescing to Republican demands because he's suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or some other deep-seated psychological malady. That's clearly overthinking the problem. It's far more basic than…
File this under "Democrats are the stupidest political party in recorded history." A recent poll asked, "In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?" The answer: This isn't just the 'liberal' base: the entire party…

The best part of today's Obama address will be

'Sixteen-Hundred Pennsylvania Avenue.'

By Don from Roche… (not verified) on 20 Jan 2009 #permalink