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1/6/2008
COULD CONSERVATIVES WORK WITH A PRESIDENT OBAMA?

With the prospects increasing that Barack Obama will be the Democratic party’s nominee for president, perhaps it’s time to look at the man and imagine a time when he would be president and face up to the challenges such an historic situation would present.

Obama would be the first post-baby boom president. His positions on issues are not totally informed by the old liberal-leftist verities that have dominated the Democratic party since the days of George McGovern. His rhetoric is much more of a classical liberal than that of an angry New Leftist. As such, his platitudes about “change” and “hope” are much less threatening than the rhetoric of a John Edwards or Hillary Clinton.

There are aspects to the Obama candidacy and proposed legislative program that go against liberal orthodoxy and could be embraced by conservatives. And while I believe this man should be defeated if he were to get the Democratic nomination, there is a chance that come January 20, 2009, he will be a reality that must be dealt with. The question then for conservatives will be whether some of his more extreme proposals – universal health care, tax increases, a dubious foreign policy – can be moderated or defeated while working with a president whose mandate was largely based on changing the divisive, poisonous political culture in Washington.

Outside of radical extremists (found largely on the internet), I don’t think there are too many Americans who don’t yearn for a new dynamic animating our political conversation in Washington. This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be passionate disagreements on issues. But it is important to realize what an Obama presidency would represent – a truly historic, complete, total break with the past and an opportunity for change that has come very rarely in American history.

An Obama presidency would represent a “hinge of history” where not only would a new door be opened to the future but what is on the other side of that door would be unknowable. Obama is not just some liberal politician spouting the same crap we’ve heard since the 1960’s. Yes, some of his programs are echoes of the dying New Left paradigm of massive government intrusion into areas that heretofore were the province of individuals and families. But more than liberal programmatic answers, Obama is not afraid of the free market nor does he denigrate wealth producing instruments as many liberals have been doing since the ‘60’s. He has not demonized the rich as Edwards and Huckabee have done. Yes, he will raise taxes on the “rich” but also envisions a fairer tax system all around.

In this respect, I am not as much concerned with specifics regarding Obama – largely because he hasn’t fleshed any of his proposals – but rather his instincts. And while his foreign policy instincts are frightening, not so his approach to domestic issues. He appears to me to be open to compromise – far more so than Hillary Clinton – and would reach out to Republicans and conservatives in order to gain broad based support for many of his proposals. Of course, there will be areas where conservatives will not be able to follow him or compromise on. But on a wealth of issues including education, energy, trade, perhaps even entitlements, there may be opportunities to work together.

I can’t stress this enough to my fellow conservatives. If we were to play the role of total obstructionists after Obama would have been elected largely as a result of his perceived ability to work with us, the blame for Congressional gridlock would fall heavily on the GOP. We can oppose a President Obama on taxes, immigration, judges, and other conservative issues where our principles are at stake. But there are many other issues that we can find common ground and enact for the betterment of the country.

I will not vote for Barack Obama for President. But if he wins, I think we have two choices; we can either continue business as usual in Washington while the rest of the country leaves us behind, moving through that door to the future, reinventing this country as we have done in the past. Or we too can move through that door helping to shape that future to better reflect our values, our principles. One path will doom conservatism to a permanent minority status. The other holds the promise of having conservatives participate in shaping the future. One road leads to oblivion, the other to a shared future with the American people.

I like to think conservatives would take the high road.

UPDATE

I see there are many commenters begging for the GOP to become a permanent minority party and conservativism a fringe ideology. Don’t worry. If enough people think as you do, you will get your wish.

Meanwhile, DaveG at Race42008 has some thoughts on Obama as he reacts to Sully’s provocative article in the TimesOnline comparing Obama to Reagan:

Barack, like Reagan, is not only an unabashed man of the base, but is also a forward-thinking man of the future. He wants to move the country one step left and two steps forward, and in so doing wants to win the nation as a whole, not just half of it. Like Reagan, Obama exudes optimism and charisma and doesn’t appear to hate his philosophical opponents. Obama’s a liberal, but he’s not angry about it. This is similar to Reagan, who married Goldwater’s philosophy with a sunnier and more unifying temperament. Finally, Reagan was initially believed by pundits to be unelectable due to his foreign policy views, which were seen as too hawkish for a nation weary with Vietnam. But by translating his hawkishness into one that didn’t involve American boots perpetually on the ground, Reagan’s third way foreign policy ended up resuscitating hawkishness as a net electoral benefit in a post-Vietnam world. Similarly, serious political analysts, myself among them, have always believed that Obama would be crushed in a general election matchup against most of the Republicans due to his pacifism and dovishness. But Obama’s ability to turn out new voters in Iowa suggests that may not be the case. If Obama can articulate a third way foreign policy that breaks both from the Bush Doctrine and from the Democrats’ McGovernite past, he could neutralize the issue as effectively as Ronnie did.

But in order for Obama to truly be a liberal Reagan, a man who ends the red/blue divide and the current political parity that exists in the country, he would have to be able to win not only Democrats, but large numbers of independents and Republicans. So are there really any Obama Republicans out there?

Yes there are, as Dave points out. I would only take issue with Dave regarding Obama’s foreign policy experience. It’s a long way between now and November and I fully expect Obama, if he is the Democratic nominee, to commit at least one high profile verbal gaffe that would leave an opening for the Republican nominee to exploit. Obama’s inexperience is going to show at some point.

Besides the basic tension between his dovish inclinations and the need to be in an aggressive posture to protect the country may also trip him up at some point.

By: Rick Moran at 1:58 pm
31 Responses to “COULD CONSERVATIVES WORK WITH A PRESIDENT OBAMA?”
  1. 1
    Bill Arnold Said:
    2:57 pm 

    http://www.barackobama.com has a reasonably comprehensive issues section, though still lacking in enough detail to satisfy policy wonks.
    I just wish Sen. Obama would talk about his positions more, and make it more clear what his lines in the sand are, both internationally and when working with the domestic political opposition.

  2. 2
    zeke Said:
    3:02 pm 

    Fuhgeddaboudit!!

    It’s the Jihad, stupid! (I’m not calling you stupid, just repeating the slogan). If Rice/Bush are wimping out, how much worse will O’Bommah be? If we can’t defeat him then we have to fight tooth and nail to minimize the damage.

    What in hell is all reconciliation/new beginning nonsense about anyway? As long as the libtards are drawing moral equivalency between the Arabs and the Israelis (just one of a million examples), there is nothing to do but fight.

    CHENEY in ‘08!

  3. 3
    GW Said:
    4:26 pm 

    “too many Americans who don’t yearn for a new dynamic animating our political conversation in Washington.”

    The existing dynamic seems largely a construct of the left from where I am sitting – admittedly in the cheap seats. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me over nearly the past decade, the Democrat’s idea of bipartisanship has been Republicans need to adopt the Democrats positions. Republicans as a whole have been far more willing to accomodate – sometimes far too much – than have the hard ideological left. Just recall how the Democrats utterly refused to do anything about Social Security. Or compare the approval of Ginsburg to . . . well, pick your Republican SCT or appeals court nominee. If you think I am understating the problem, I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

    Where Obama can do the most damage is in foreign policy. And he seems utterly out of touch in that area. Scarilly so, actually.

    I certainly have no qualms with electing a woman or an Afican American to the Presidency. My problem is with the particualar two choices we have in that regards. But to look forward to voting for either one on the grounds of its historic importance just does not make list of considerations.

  4. 4
    Nascar Said:
    4:37 pm 

    Wow, America is going to be a third world country by adapting universal health care, tax increases and an incomplete foreign policy overnight. Let’s get realistic, change is going to be good for America.

  5. 5
    Allahpunditredux Said:
    4:49 pm 

    Rick,
    I like what you say but I am afraid that your advice falls on too many deaf ears. The only thing to hope for if Obama is elected would be for the GOP senators and reps to go against the tide to establish the types of compromise you mentioned and to take a stand on being the ones that continue the sickening polarization that has defined our political scene the last 20 years.
    Obama seems to have the Reagan style that makes the oppostion more willing to reach for a compromise. That is just my initial opinion about him.

    One year ago I wouldn’t have considered voting for Obama. While I don’t know whether I could vote for him I can say the conduct of the “conservative base” has disgusted me in so many ways that I could see doing so as a protest vote. The party must come to its senses and move toward the center to be relevant.

  6. 6
    syn Said:
    6:03 pm 

    I think I can manage four years of a high Misery Index(anyone remember those days?)however I don’t have kids to feed, a car to fuel, or high property to tax to pay.

    If it should come to pass, I do plan on pulling all my investments out of the market though, the tax code will be a’changing come 2010 and I don’t want to lose the only thing I do have..my personal retirement plan.

  7. 7
    HE HATE ME Said:
    6:07 pm 

    #2 If you don’t vote for Obambi you must be a racist. He has a vision and will bring back America’s former glory. You see how much has been accomplished by Bush’s sucking up to fatboy teddy kennedy. Even if McCain were CinC, he too would work to compromise with the left on immigration, judges and campaign finance plus crack down on the evil drug companies.

    Would also be nice for Barack to have Hillary as Veep. Wonder how long it would take for him to have a fatal accident? I know, all those mysterious deaths of people connected to the Clintons were just coincidental or somehow work of the VRWC?

    Some of the Paulbots are claiming the Hillary is also a neocon and Obama or Edwards will do fine if the PaulWad doesn’t win it all.

  8. 8
    Banjo Said:
    6:08 pm 

    Talk about a paper tiger! Obama wins a primary and you already have him in the White House and conservatives hoping to find a way to work with him.

  9. 9
    Bob Said:
    7:30 pm 

    Jeez, aren,t you getting ahead of things just a wee bit? I mean it’s 11 months to go and you’re speculating on Barack to run the table?

    His foreign policy view is a complete non-starter for me. It’s incredibly naive and idealisitc, IMO. Must remember this is a long war and, surge notwithstanding, it’s not even close to being over.

    I’m looking for a show of strength
    and someone who looks, acts and speaks strong. Thus far, that’s Fred even though I’m not in total sync with all his positions.

    Obama’s oratory prowess is engaging but I’m not looking for someone from the speaker’s bureau to run the country.

    Besides if anyone really thinks a member of the Chicago and Illinois Dem. machine is a change agent, you may want to revisit that thinking.

  10. 10
    retire05 Said:
    8:01 pm 

    Sorry, I have to disagree with you. This is like saying that if we are going to get the living hell kicked out of us, we should try to convince the guy doing the kicking to wear softer shoes.

    I’m sorry, I will never be able to work with anyone who says he believes in “age-appropriate” sex education for kindergartners and thinks that if a baby winds up being born alive after the mother tries to abort it that it is OK to let it die since it is her choice, and stand even NARAL couldn’t accept. I also think there would not be much room for compromise with a guy who claims that America has come a long way which permits someone like him (half black) to run for POTUS but btw, do you white guys remember Selma? That kind of change will take place when Dr. Bill Cosby has a greater voice than Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

    I don’t want a “new” America, I want the America designed by Franklin, Adams, Madison, Jefferson and the rest of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I don’t want a “living” ever changing Constitution, depending on the whims of activist judges (which Obama will probably be able to put two on the SCOTUS), I want a government that follows the Constitution that was written so that every man, woman and child over the age of 12 could understand it whether they could read or not. I don’t want to be taxed by a government that thinks it knows what to do with my paycheck better than I do so they can try to make someone happy, I want everyone to be able to persue happiness, not give them a guarantee.

    Yes, his foreign policy instincts are frightening, and remember he will be the CIC. But in the end, our domestic policy won’t matter a hill of beans if we have multiple 9-11’s all over this nation. The concern about staying alive will always trump the concern for socialized health care.

    So if you want to accept anything, accept that as conservatives we must work harder than we ever have to make sure that no Democratic reaches the Oval Office as POTUS on January 20, 2008. You want a hint of what’s to come if that happens? Take a look at the stock market the day after the Iowa caucuses. And don’t try to say that it was due to one guy who purchased a block of oil at $100. only to watch oil prices fall after that. It wasn’t.

    After watching politics for 45 years, having traded parties after Jimmy Carter and seeing how we have come from the financial security of the 50’s, I can see where we have landed; and it ain’t purty. If you can’t see that we are heading for a government based on collectivism and that the current crop of Democrats would not only give it a push but a hard kick toward the finish line, I guess all this opining of mine has just been wasted effort.

  11. 11
    Transplanted Lawyer Said:
    9:38 pm 

    I think you’re pretty much right, Rick. President Obama would reach out to the Republicans, at least until the first time they bit his hand for doing so. Hopefully, there would not be Obama Derangement Syndrome and we could return to the days when there was a “loyal opposition” as the minority party, serving as a brake on the excesses of the majority, as opposed to calling one another traitors and semi-humans.

  12. 12
    B.Poster Said:
    11:56 pm 

    I have no doubt that Conservatives can work with a President Obama. I think a better question is, can a President Obama work with Conservatives? The most powerful group within the Democratic party appears to be the group that is often referred to as the “angry left.” This is the faction of the Democratic party that is best represented by groups like Moveon.org and George Soros. To date, this group has not shown a willingness to compromise with anyone. In order to operate effectively, any Democrat has to find some way to keep these people in the fold. They will invariably pull hard, in a direction away from Conservative, any Democratic president. As such, I think the better question will be can a President Obama work with Conservatives?

  13. 13
    phoobaar Said:
    5:45 am 

    Spoken like a true neoconservative after Irving Kristol’s own heart. The “right” embracing the “left” in brotherly cooperation, with neither of them fully embracing the platforms they espouse. Empty wordplay to be the order of the day, always, on both sides. Like a broad-point arrowhead, working toward the tip, they grow ever closer together, until one day the twain shall meet, and we’ll have our one-party system. No more bandying ideas back and forth to keep things lively. No more healthy debate to keep things honest. No more choice for the average American. Just a drab, gray, Soviet-esque future where everything is centrally planned. From the economy, to foreign policy, to social liberties, to morality, to medicine, to the environment, the lone party will bark its orders without opposition.

    That’s what I see behind your magical door.

  14. 14
    Rick Moran Said:
    7:46 am 

    “That’s what I see behind your magical door.”

    This is one of the loonier comments ever left here.

    No words…

  15. 15
    Sidney Burkett Said:
    8:06 am 

    Once Republicans throw social conservatives, the rich, the medical industry, and our support for freedom outside our borders under the bus while kowtowing to every environmental fad that comes along we will be able to get along with Obama fine. Obama doesn’t spew the hate you hear from people like Edwards but he does feed on it with his rhetoric and policy ideas. It’s an issue of sytle not substance.

  16. 16
    Transplanted Lawyer Said:
    9:48 am 

    Re: your update. I, for one, don’t see how working with (rather than against) a Democratic President would condemn Republicans to permanent minority status. One bad even-numbered year in the war, or one bad even-numbered year in the economy, and voters will look to the other party for different ideas. That’s when Republicans have an opportunity to offer their own vision for how the country should be, and if the vision sells, President Obama will wind up working with a Republican-controlled Congress—or be on the fighting uphill side of things when he runs for re-election himself.

  17. 17
    Larry your brother Said:
    9:51 am 

    #10:

    You can talk about what you think a Democratic president may be like, but blaming the stock market fall on Obama is witless.

    -5% unemployment
    -Rising inflation
    -Slowing inudstrial sector in the economy (the one bright spot to that point)

    Obama’s victory dragging down the stock market? Really?

  18. 18
    syn Said:
    10:08 am 

    For the next two economic quarters, are not the markets projecting a recession and are also projecting that for the last two quarters recession will subside?

    5% unemployment was what we had in the 90’s, so is there a need to panic about unemployment?

    The Misery Index isn’t high enough yet for Americans to understand how good is our current economy.

  19. 19
    Dan Said:
    10:44 am 

    Republicans did not obstruct Clinton’s judicial appointments, whereas the Democrats have held up many Bush judicial and administration appointments. In facing a Democratic president the GOP would be crazy not to take the high road and yes, challenge some individual appointments, but for the most part allow the choice of the American electorate to govern. The contrast would be obvious over time and would go a long way toward rebuilding confidence in the party.

    If Obama is in fact elected, I would expect the margin of victory to be sufficiently large to put behind all the tiresome “stolen election” chatter. Republicans in Congress would of course need to participate in debating the terms of new initiatives. But respecting the outcome of the election while arguing for the party’s principles is the only way to avoid the trap the BDS-afflicted Democrats have fallen into. Do we really need to create a Republican analogue to Pat Leahy, Carl Levin, Barbara Boxer, Jack Murtha, etc.?

    It may take a while to develop a coherent policy platform, but the voters will punish mindless negativity in the long run.

  20. 20
    zwhite Said:
    10:51 am 

    The libs are being exposed on every front:

    1. in the ‘90’s it was welfare reform (the official end of the ill-conceived “war on poverty”)

    2. The nutbag anti-war movement

    3. lowering tax rates results in more revenue, not less

    4. The Pali Arabs aren’t really terrorists, they just want their stolen land back so they can live in peace

    5. Government health care sucks everywhere (except maybe Kuwait and Saudi if you’re a muslim male); Canadians who can afford it come here for major surgery etc.

    Next to go will be the whole carbon footprint/man-made global warming BS.

    O’Bomma is not different…he’s just another arrogant progressive who thinks he knows what’s good for the rest of us. He has to be stopped.

    It’s starting to seem like ‘rightwing’ is a misnomer; how about RINO nuthouse?
    CHENEY/COULTER ‘08

  21. 21
    PoliGazette » Why Rick Moran Should Co-Blog Here Pinged With:
    11:47 am 

    [...] Because of posts like this one. [...]

  22. 22
    Chris Said:
    12:50 pm 

    “Yes, some of his programs are echoes of the dying New Left paradigm of massive government intrusion into areas that heretofore were the province of individuals and families.”

    After reading that sentence, I couldn’t help but think of the Bush administration’s warrantless spying efforts.

  23. 23
    ajacksonian Said:
    1:57 pm 

    Well, if you like GWB looking at Putin and seeing his soul, then you will love Obama’s friend Raila Odinga in Kenya.

  24. 24
    phoobaar Said:
    4:13 pm 

    Rick,

    You’re the one talking about a mystical “door to the future,” hanging on the “hinge of history” and leading to an unknowable but presumably harmonious destiny in Washington. Talk about loony. You make it sound almost desirable.

    What I desire is a future of hard-line partisanship, where both parties fight for the extremes of their platforms. Where any agreements reached will be decidedly less moonbatty when our side carries the day, yet all the more horrifying and motivating when theirs does. Settling for permanent centrist mediocrity is a cop-out; it dooms our heirs to a bleak, languid future.

    Call me loony, but a one-party system doesn’t appeal to me. That’s exactly where all this brotherly love, this idealized political landscape you wistfully pine for, will lead us. And you know it. If my “magical door” comment was loony, then I’ve succeeded in painting yours as such.

    Thanks for the stimulating article.

  25. 25
    Jay Said:
    4:17 pm 

    “I don’t want a “new” America, I want the America designed by Franklin, Adams, Madison, Jefferson and the rest of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.”

    Exactly! Rick has lost his mind if he’s serious with his B.O. love-fest. The guy is an empty suit, to the nth degree. He will be destroyed in the Clinton machine or at the latest, republicans, who will showcase his looney views and his shady muslim past.

  26. 26
    Brainster Said:
    4:56 pm 

    Will Obama need any help from the Republicans? We’ve already got a Democrat congress, and if Obama wins, it seems extremely likely that he’ll have some coattails as well.

  27. 27
    retire05 Said:
    10:06 pm 

    Sorry, but all this “meet and greet in the middle” Repubican caving is just that; moderation that will sell our nation to the collectivists in the Democratic Party. Why would Obama, with a majority in the Congress and a small majority in the Senate even need to work with Republicans? The Democrats goals are not to get along, they are to get their agendas passed. No need to get Republican cooperation when they are the majority.

    We hear how we need another Reagan. I don’t think Reagan would be saying “we just all need to get along”. Sorry, we need to work our butts off to make sure that the Demcorats don’t take possession of the Oval Office. Just ask your liberal friends if they are happy that the split-to-the-left SCOTUS made them happy when they decided that companies could end a retiree’s health benefits when they reach the age to be on Medicare. Those are benefits that unions worked for and the SCOTUS just said “doesn’t matter” and ruled in favor of corporations.

    Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.

  28. 28
    Allahpunditredux Said:
    6:12 am 

    #27
    “The Democrats goals are not to get along, they are to get their agendas passed. No need to get Republican cooperation when they are the majority.”

    Do you honestly believe that the Republicans weren’t acting the same way the last six years they held the majority? They did everything they could to slap the Dems around and deny them any participation in much of the legislative process.

    Someone needs to break the logjam. Obama for the Dems could do it or McCain for the Repubs could do it, with Rudy a close second.

    Any of those three could begin to get some serious compromise legislation done. Compromise is the nature of politics – a fact that the most rabid partisans on both sides of the aisle seem to ignore … to the detriment of the country.

  29. 29
    retire05 Said:
    1:33 pm 

    Allahpundittredex, in case you haven’t noticed, the president doesn’t run the Congress or the Senate. Those, currently, are under the controll of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and I see no indication they are willing to work with Republicans in any way, shape or form.

  30. 30
    Headhunt23 Said:
    4:05 pm 

    “We can oppose a President Obama on taxes, immigration, judges, and other conservative issues where our principles are at stake. But there are many other issues that we can find common ground and enact for the betterment of the country.”

    Taking a lot off the table there, aren’t you Rick?

    Besides, with Obama, we might actually have a chance to do what has to be done with immigrations. Put up a physical border on our south, then work out a path to legality for the illegals already here. The Republican party just doesn’t want to take the hit on putting up a fence.

    Also, Social Security would be back on the table, and reform could take place. This is an area that Bush was more than happy to get involved with, unfortunetly the public doesn’t trust the Republicans to reform social security. (Just like the military draw down had to begin with a Republican president in 1990).

    Anyway, your analysis is a little off. In 1992, the public sent Bill Clinton, an agent of change, the man from Hope, to replace the stodgy Bush. The congressional Republicans fought him at every turn and took the congress two years later. I am not so sure why it can’t happen with Obama. Right now, he is all shinny and new and has avoided offending anyone. As soon as he took office, he would have to actually start making decisions, and as soon as he starts making decisions he will start pi$$ing people off. He would immediately become “just another politician” because a lot of people will feel duped.

  31. 31
    ‘Cause When The Feeling’s Right I’m Gonna Run All Night, I’m Gonna Run To You « QC Examiner Pinged With:
    4:05 pm 

    [...] 4. Many conservatives believe they can work with Obama no matter his liberal politics. [...]

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