Election Day blogging (2:30 p.m. EST thread)

Join Joan Walsh, Glenn Greenwald, David Sirota, David Talbot, Digby, Paul Maslin and Gary Kamiya as they follow the day's events.

Published November 4, 2008 7:32PM (EST)

David Sirota (4:06pm EST): But Gary, they already are billing Obama as Karl Marx reincarnate. So if they are already doing that, why should Dems avoid claiming a progressive mandate, should they win?


Gary Kamiya (4:02 p.m. EST): Hi fellow party crashers on Joan's blog, fun to be chatting with you all. I'm going to play devil's advocate here and read McCaskill's comments about Obama reaching out to McCain supporters and working with Republicans in a little more sanguine way. First, let me say that I agree with David and Glenn on the substance of their remarks. We're all only too familiar with cowering Democrats abandoning their positions and principles out of deference to some imagined public backlash if they dare to deviate from the alleged "center-right" nature of the country. And I suppose that McCaskill's remarks (which I didn't see) could be interpreted as an early warning shot fired across Obama's bow. If that's what they are, it's more of the tiresome same.

But I think her comments could also be seen as less pointed, as more abstract, and as in the generous bipartisan spirit that Obama has consistently evoked. Bipartisanship can mean selling out, but it can also mean trying to bring people together -- and be effective. Sure, there's probably no way to bring members of the GOP base together with Obama supporters. But there are many McCain supporters who are not part of the Republican base. Obama's appeal has always been that he will be able to both pursue a progressive agenda and unify the country (as much as possible.) I hope I'm not being a kumbaya singer to say that would be a good thing.

It's all about what he actually does. A lot of this is about salesmanship and rhetoric, the presidential persona he projects. I believe that after his election (knock on wood) Obama needs to immediately and aggressively pursue a progressive agenda, from an ambitious deficit-financed infrastructure-rebuilding project that the right will call a Commie rerun of the New Deal to a new energy policy to changing course on Iraq and start walking back his hawkish Afghanistan position. But how he sells all this is critical. From a purely pragmatic view, it's easier to be an effective leader if you aren't immediately caricatured as the second coming of Karl Marx. Not that the right won't do that anyway. But let's wait and see. Like so many things about Obama, it's hard to read his bipartisan message and image. I'm choosing to be optimistic that he's going to be progressive AND bipartisan.


digby (3:59 p.m. EST): Joan, the Ambrose Evans-Pritchard thing is hilarious. Back in the day, when there was only Drudge (and Salon, thank God) the Republicans routinely laundered their smears through the British press. It's fitting that Evans-Pritchard would reappear just when the mainstream media has finally figured out that Drudge is a right-wing hack. (Or perhaps they always knew it and have just discovered that being led around by a right-wing hack is no longer fashionable.)

As for why the socialist tag has been more eagerly accepted this time out, I think it's a combination of the image of a Marxist black militant and the fact that the Republican base is restive and the commie threat speaks directly to the conservative lizard brain -- always has. It's a tribal signal.

And you bet this is going to be used as a cudgel to narrow the options for a Democratic government. As Sirota has documented, we are already seeing a full court press from the timorous villagers and the fiscal scolds to limit the parameters of the debate and shrink the mandate to a cramped center-right agenda.The conservatives will perform their role by staging regular hissy fits, which the press will find irresistible, and the new Dem "moderates" and the Blue Dogs will try to assert their dominance by showing that they are "mavericks" (which is defined, as we know, by how much you buck your own party).

Obama has his hands full, both in terms of the huge problems the country faces and a political system that is fractured into sharp shards that all fall in ways that threaten any kind of bold change. Luckily, he is a great politician with intelligence and excellent instincts. He's going to need them.


Glenn Greenwald (3:27 p.m. EST): In 2006, the Republicans suffered one of the worst defeats in a mid-term election in the last century. The conservative movement's standard-bearer, George Bush, is -- as The Washington Post just put it this week -- "the most disliked president since polling on the question began in the 1930s." In the 2008 election, Democrats are favored to win the Presidency (with a person claimed, absurdly, to be the "most left-wing member of the U.S. Senate) and sweep a couple of dozen GOP incumbents (at least) out of the House, while in the Senate, the only real question is whether they will have a filibuster-proof majority.

So what does all of that mean to Beltway platitude-spouters? As David Sirota noted earlier, it means (of course) that conservatism is as strong as ever, and that the U.S. is -- all together now -- a "center-right country":


Paul Maslin (2:35 p.m. EST): Sense here in Wisconsin is that turnout is hovering around the 2004 level -- which was a very high 76% and will be extremely hard to best given all the effort that went into Kerry plus same day registration. Early voting is up in Milwaukee among African-Americans. It may be that some Republicans have stayed home.


Glenn Greenwald (2:31 pm EST): It's fairly miserable waking up with the expectation and glee that the election will finally be over, only to then have to wait 12 hours before being fed even a morsel of meaningful news. The only information worth considering before then are turnout reports, which can only be anecdotal and thus unreliable.

Still, a consensus seems to be emerging that turnout in heavily Democratic and African-American areas in key states is huge -- even larger than expected. Michael Steele, who tends to be a hard-core GOP loyalist, even just acknowledged that, and in the state I'd say is the most important right now, Pennsylvania, that seems to be especially true.

By Salon Staff

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