The pre-election NYT poll found that 78 percent want the Republicans to compromise with Obama rather than stick to their positions in the next two years; 76 percent want the Dems to do the same; and a slightly lower percentage, but still overwhelming, wants Obama to compromise too: 69 percent.For archival purposes (well, maybe my reader will enjoy it, too), I'm reproducing a post I wrote on the Nixon foundation's blog a week before the 2008 election. I'll admit that, as an intestinal moderate, I'm mandate-averse. When any leader begins to envision himself or herself as a singular visionary, watch out. But Tuesday's result looked like nothing more than a rebuke of President Obama's overreaching (not because we didn't need health care reform, which we did, but because it kept him from focusing on jobs one in order to demonstrate a relentless desire to get his people back to work). Anyway, back to October 2008:
It’s not over yet. But while almost everyone will blame either Sen. McCain or Gov. Palin for the expected GOP debacle on Nov. 4, it’s important to fix the blame for the party’s dire prospects where it belongs — the plummeting economy, whose authors are Republicans and Democrats, Congresses and Presidents, Fed chairmen and Americans who borrowed more than they could afford in the hope that real estate prices would balloon indefinitely.Which Obaman temperament I had completely misread, incidentally. A general outlook that appeared sunny and nonanxious during the campaign now appears to be prone to being gloomy, inflexible, and restive.
Amid the dread that millions of Americans are feeling, no different VP nominee would have helped McCain more, and no different GOP nominee — Romney, Huckabee, Reagan — could probably beat Sen. Obama. By the same token, Obama’s considerable gifts notwithstanding, Sen. Clinton would have done just as well. It’s just like 1980, when any Republican — Connally, Bush, Reagan — could’ve beaten Jimmy Carter thanks to the abysmal mess his administration had made of the economy and foreign policy.
President Reagan’s hagiographers have turned the 1980 election into a mandate for Reagan-Goldwater Republicanism rather than for the doctrine of anybody-but-Carter. They’re wrong. Not his election but his first-term tax cuts and tough Cold War line earned him his legacy, along with his unfailingly sunny demeanor.
If Obama wins, he won’t have an ideological mandate. Reagan could blame his predecessor for most of the nation’s problems in 1981 far more legitimately than Obama will be able to in 2009, especially now that Iraq war has taken such a positive turn. Even more than Reagan, who talked right but often governed as a moderate, Obama is more likely to succeed by walking right down the middle of the road. Just like Reagan, his greatest resource will be his temperament.