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Pushing Obama Towards the Middle

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In the Daily News, centrist Democrat Bob Kerrey explains how Barack Obama, if elected, can succeed.

The key passage:

By my lights, the primary threat to the success of a President Obama will come from some Democrats who, emboldened by the size of their congressional majority, may try to kill trade agreements, raise taxes in ways that will destroy jobs, repeal the Patriot Act and spend and regulate to high heaven.

This is where Obama’s persona is invaluable. He can withstand the arguments and pressure of the liberal wing in the Democratic caucus if, once elected, he is guided by the best instincts he has displayed on the campaign trail.

Obama certainly has a moderate temperament. Whether or not he has moderate governing instincts is undetermined.

The right would like us to believe he’s a radical and will conspire with Congress to wreak the kind of havoc Kerrey describes. But if Obama wants to be a successful president with broad support, he will heed Kerrey’s advice and serve not as the facilitator of his party’s worst instincts but as a leader who can pull the Democrats away from the tired leftist agendas of the last generation and towards new, center-left ideas for the future.

Kerrey probably hopes for too much. There is little in Obama’s record outside of his rhetoric that indicates he will buck his party in any real or lasting way. But, like many of those in the political middle, Kerrey has decided that our nation’s best bet is with Obama. If he’s elected, the trick will be making sure he knows he owes his presidency as much to the middle as to the base.

I suspect that is exactly why Kerrey wrote this piece.