"Center-Right Nation" Watch - Mark Penn Edition
By David Sirota
November 3, 2008 - 4:31pm ET
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Mark Penn joins fellow corporate pollster Doug Schoen, Peggy Noonan, Charles Krauthammer and Jon Meacham as the latest member of the Punditburo to insist that no matter what happens on election day, America is a center-right nation, and therefore a President Obama must not govern as a progressive. Here's the excerpt from Penn's screed in the Financial Times:
The history of 1992 contains a clear warning that a centre-left coalition can fall apart quickly if the policies are seen as too far left. In 1993, Mr Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy, adopted the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military, proposed and lost universal healthcare and adopted gun safety measures, banning assault rifles. (emphasis added)
Penn is following Schoen's lead in making the Democratic side of this Establishment argument - using the manufactured storyline of Bill Clinton's supposed actions to claim that if a President Obama governs as a progressive, he will end up like Clinton in 1994. Not only is the storyline wholly fake, it implies that nothing has changed in America since 1994. That is, it implies with a straight face that the Bush years and the backlash to those years did nothing to move the country in a progressive direction.
Give all of these hacks credit. Out of their hysterical fear of waking up to irrelevancy on November 5th has come a disciplined strategy of lying - lying about where polling data shows the country is on issues, and lying about what an election of Obama actually means in such an ideologically polarized context.
Look, I'm all for Obama governing as a "centrist" - as long as he recognizes that the actual "center" of American public opinion is far different from the "center" as defined by corporate-hired pollsters like Penn, and the rest of the Establishment Punditburo.
And that's what's really going on here - the Establishment is attempting to anchor the definition of the "center" right where it si right now. And as dishonest as the arguments from shills like Penn are, those arguments are going to only get louder after election day. If they are allowed to distort whatever election mandate happens on November 4th, they will kill progressive change before it is ever born.
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