The stories about anger from the left over President-elect Barack Obama’s move to the center began surfacing days after the Nov. 4 election, around the same time he first met with Sen. Hillary Clinton to discuss her becoming the secretary of state.
We wrote on Nov. 20 about Mr. Obama’s support for Sen. Lieberman and how that infuriated some in the liberal blogosphere. The story continues to be written as Mr. Obama fills out his Cabinet and White House staff positions.
But conservative columnist William Kristol raised an interesting point yesterday on “Fox News Sunday” in light of Mr. Obama’s announcement that he’ll implement a massive infrastructure and domestic spending package.
“Obama, I think, is a man who sees himself as a man who will change America internally and domestically, and that’s his mission,” Mr. Kristol said. “And when we heard him yesterday speak about this unbelievably huge public works program he’s going to institute, that he sees himself in the mode of FDR, a man who comes in in a crisis, uses all the resources of the federal government, and changes America.”
Mr. Kristol went even further, refuting charges that Mr. Obama is moving to the middle by naming Mrs. Clinton and other moderates or hawks to his national security team.
“I think it’s not so much an expression of his centrism. I think it’s an expression of the fact that he’s not that interested in foreign affairs,” Mr. Kristol said. “He wants quiet on the eastern and western fronts. He’s not like a Nixon or a Reagan, who has ambitions in foreign affairs.”
“Obama intends to be a domestic policy president. So did George Bush,” he said. “But God knows what happens in Pakistan and India, or in the Middle East or with Iran. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Obama, after an initial focus on the economy, ending up being, given the way the world is, a foreign policy president too.”
The charge that Mr. Obama doesn’t really care about foreign policy is no doubt oversimplistic. But Mr. Obama’s move to help replace House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell with Henry Waxman has already showed that he intends to pursue policies on healthcare, energy and climate change that are to the left of center.
And after the president-elect’s announcement of his public works package, I did find myself wondering if his focus on domestic affairs will be interrupted in much the same way Mr. Bush’s was.