March 14, 2010

Here we go again with that magical, mythical political "center" that the TV talking heads love to chatter endlessly about. Chris Matthews asks his panel what the next move should be for President Obama and of course in the world of the D.C. Villagers, he needs to move to the center, as though he’s not there already. Matthews actually has the gall to call him a progressive and ask if he can “pretend to be a centrist”. Way to push that phony right-wing talking point Chris.

Matthews: Let’s go to the bottom line, we took it to the Matthews Meter—twelve of our regulars—what’s the smartest political move for Obama right now; play to the center or to the left? Well no contest here, eleven say play to the center. Just one said go left. Joe and Katy you’re both in the meter and both of your are in the eleven.

Kay: It is a bit different from Bill Clinton who moved to the center and that benefited him and clearly you know everyone in Washington is talking about that and is that the way the President should go if he has such a drubbing in the mid-term elections.

Matthews: Yeah.

Kay: But I am… I do think he’s got to keep the base happy in order to keep the base stimulated, particularly in these mid-term elections.

Matthews: Do you think he’s as good at faking it as Bill Clinton was? Can he pretend to be a centrist?

Kay: This is the other reason… I also think he’s not an angry populist and this is the other reason for him not to try and play that card because when he did try to do it and started railing against the banks, it isn’t something that sits easy with him.

Matthews: Okay.

Kay: He is a fundamentally, kind of reasonable, rational, lawyerly type guy…

Matthews: But he is a progressive?

Kay: …and taking on the… I think he is a progressive… but taking on that mantle of populism is not something that’s suited to him.

Matthews: Can he sell himself as a non-transformative, regular guy president who just goes with the flow like Bill Clinton did?

Rather: No. First of all, he isn’t Bill Clinton—totally different kind of political candidate and political leader. He’s got to be true to himself. Listen, particularly in this era, two most important things are authenticity. You’ve got to be authentic. In the television age if you aren’t authentic and you aren’t very often it’s going to show through. The second thing is to have a conversation with people. He may be in his speeches a little too speechifying, preachifying in his speeches; authenticity, having a conversation with the constituency, the broad constituency of the country are the most important things going. And I come back to he has to show some guts and some steel—he’s got to.

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