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Democrats Should Be Wary of Overreach

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Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Dick Polman cautions Democrats not to mistake a big Barack Obama win for a sudden American appetite for liberal politics. Polman writes:

Stan Greenberg, a prominent Democratic pollster, suggested the other day that voters are interested in Obama “because of his steadiness,” and not because of his progressive agenda. That sounds about right.

Swing voters – the folks in the middle of the electorate – checked out Obama during the three presidential debates, and judged him to be of keen intellect and good temperament, at a crisis moment when both traits are required. In terms of intellect, Obama is widely viewed as the antithesis of Bush; in terms of temperament, he is widely viewed as the antithesis of John McCain.

But just because Americans want something different, that doesn’t mean that the nation is trending leftward; indeed, as top Obama strategist David Axelrod remarked in Newsweek the other day, “I think right now people are in a pragmatic mood, not an ideological mood.” In other words, Obama is well-positioned to win not because of his liberal profile, but in spite of it.

I think Polman is right and I’m glad to see that Obama and his people seem to have the proper sense of the American mood: pragmatic not ideological.

The last thing we want to do is replace an era of conservative overreach for an era of liberal overreach. If Democrats are tone deaf enough to ignore the national mood in favor of a leftist agenda, I think their time in power will be very short lived.