What concrete steps should Obama take to win over conservatives

The biggest two issues are the economy and the war. On the economy - Obama wouldn’t commit to major spending cuts in his campaign - but they are sorely needed. Also needed is massive entitlement reform - and anyone who doesn’t see that is kidding themselves. If he can take some steps toward shoring this mess up, he’ll win a lot of respect across the political spectrum.

He’ll get a significant portion of this respect from conservatives - this issue, along with immigration, has been their major complaint with Bush.

To do this, though, he’ll have to resist terribly the impulses of Congress. The tendency of legislators is to buy votes - and congressional Democrats are as bad or worse than congressional Republicans in this regard.

As for the war, Obama simply will have to disappoint his most liberal supporters if he wants to do the right thing in Iraq. Whether or not we should have gone in is an academic argument now, and the situation on the ground has changed considerably since mid-2007. I won’t complain when troops come home, but to do this right they will have to come home far more slowly than Obama has promised, and with a lot of preliminary work done in advance.

I don’t expect to agree with Obama on much - but frankly if he doesn’t do these things he won’t be acting responsibly as president. I suspect that he knows this too. Beyond this there will be differences that can be chalked up to the normal differences of people of goodwill approaching politics from different viewpoints. I’m fine with that.

No, no re-election. Beatification, possibly.

Yes to Petraeus, no to Gates. Here I am thinking more of appealing to the mainstream rather than conservatives, but Obama needs as little perceived continuity with Bush as he can manage. Petraeus is identified with the surge and its successes, so he makes sense to keep (especially in light of Obama’s admission that the surge worked ).

This is the big If. If he can reduce the deficit and/or fix the economy, or at least look busy while it recovers on its own, he is in like Flynn. If it is more bullshit like the stimulus package, fuhgeddaboutit.

Is this on the table? I don’t recall anything Obama said about vouchers, but support for those would piss off the teachers unions big-time. But you are correct, it would be a nice thing to offer social conservatives. So would a ban on partial birth abortions, but that might be another third rail he doesn’t want to touch.

And I am rather sure it isn’t.

If Obama can eliminate the deficit, fix the economy, and increase social spending all at the same time, I will be delighted. I would estimate the chances of that happening as rather less than those of Phred Phelps and Larry Craig announcing their engagement.

Stem cells are a good idea, but the payback politically won’t be for ten or fifteen years.

Right on the money, IME. He has to become a leader in less than three months.

Based on his record in the Senate, well…

Yes, I do, and it’s because of my fundamental skepticism about the whole idea of being “post-partisan.” It’s something that sounds real nice in theory and when you’re throwing out empty phrases like (with apologies to xenophon) “discussion groups,” “genuine outreach,” “implement policy based on practicalities,” and “work relentlessly toward consensus.” But actually acting in a nonpartisan/postpartisan/centrist way and doing some of the things your opponent wants done (and your supporters do not want done) is much, much harder; it’s just a function of human nature and the nature of power dynamics. After fighting like hell to acquire power, it’s pretty damned counterintuitive to turn around and say to the people you just beat “okay, I think you’re wrong about this, but we’ll try it your way anyway,” even on minor issues, let alone major ones.

Because appointing one centrist member of the opposition party to a cabinet post is already SOP. It would be surprising to *not *do it.

Yes, well obviously the hard-core pub base is not going to come around; what I meant was more about those that are persuadable.

To take the fairness doctrine as an example: Talk radio has been warning for months that the Dems want to reinstitute it. If Obama comes out and clearly opposes it – says he would veto any bill that makes any move towards it, or some such thing – well, it obviously wouldn’t sway Shaun Hannity, but it would

  1. make some of Hannity’s listeners – not all of whom are hard-core – stop and reassess some things

  2. piss off the harder-left, both in the nation and in the Congress.
    Anything significant enough to do #1 will likely do #2 as well. It’s my hope that Obama will be willing to do so.
    ETA: I’m very much liking some of the things suggested so far. More, please. (And someone send this thread to Obama…)

Because the clock is ticking and the new guy has at most eight years. Within two years if everything works historically, the republicans start by taking back the house. Had the new guy lost , the democratic party civil war would have commenced.

That obviously did not happen, but obama’s greatest weakness will be his own party. If he remains his own man, he will disapoint the folks who want him to be the messiah and the pubs will be the least of his problems and possibly be some of his most useful allies.


Fiscal conservatism is impossible now. Our national debt is astronomical and growing. We are committed to bailing out many billions of dollars of banks and financial institutions ,presumably to prevent a meltdown. We spend 12 billion a month ,unfunded of course, on wars. Our military is all used up. It has to be rebuilt.
When people talk of tax cuts and a smaller government, they better come up with solutions for that crap first. Bush and the neocons have determined our policies for years to come.

This has always been my biggest concern regarding an Obama presidency…I have never been convinced that he will stand up to his party in Congress. If they conveniently forget about all the across-the-aisle-reaching and compromising he wants to do, I’m afraid he won’t do enough to reel them back in.

I’ve been saying for years that this is the one issue Dem need to let go of COMPLETELY. But they won’t. Contrary to what some dopers will post, draconian gun laws will be introduced/passed/sign before the end of 2009.

And like 1994 they will have to learn their lesson all over again in 2010.:smack:

The US economy needs spending cuts like a hole in the head. A really bad idea in a recession and when consumers and business are cutting back, government spending is one of main forces propping up aggregate demand. Once the recession is over Obama can consider steps to restrain spending in some areas not least defense.

Obama’s core issues were health care, energy , taxes and Iraq. I don’t think he should compromise on them significantly though there are constraints of timing and feasibility. However there are other issues where he can reach out. He should make it a point to pursue a few initiatives which don’t contradict his core principles but would appeal to at least moderate conservatives. Nuclear power is one of them and something he has talked about anyway. Free trade is another. Increased accountability for public schools is another possibility. Earmark reform is yet another issue and a good opportunity to work with John McCain. The key is to craft sensible proposals on these issues and push them quickly as a way of signalling that he is serious about bipartisanship.

I disagree. Both Obama and McCain gave commitments to fiscal discipline through line-item veto, and ear-mark reform at an unspecified value. But these are still minor items in terms of overall appropriations though.

Talk of major spending cuts in the abstract is pretty unhelpful here - as obviously it depends on priorities. Conservative Republicans, in theory, tend to favour a starve-the-beast school of spending reduction. They haven’t done managed to live up to this, of course, but the philosophy, even if followed, is pretty inimical to the Democrats’ view of good governance. Republicans following this tend to look to cut pretty much anything non-military they can get away with, without much regard for civic good goods or workable governance, and if they can produce base culture war synergies by attacking mythical Cadillac welfare queens - even better. In this way, they’re basically invested in bad governance, because what can be cut is basically not based on efficiencies but what is politically possible, and where there are breakdowns in governance it is self-reinforcing on the original ideological premise.

So needless to say, Obama won’t be going down that path. He will be balancing a different set of priorities, which will be looking at any major spending cuts through the prism of ongoing review processes, working with OMB and Treasury to assess efficiencies, and even bolster spending where appropriate.

Why? You imply that most liberals desire further harm in Iraq as some kind of morality play salutary lesson- which is frankly pretty offensive and ignorant.

Neither the world at large, nor a majority of Americans view permanent military occupation to be a desirable or worthwhile end. Obama’s plan is to incrementally withdraw, whilst retaining the security progress that has been made on the ground and to make actual progress in political transition.

The plan has never been to simply leave precipitously.

Actually it’s not academic at all: it’s a fundamental question about what is a coherent National Security Strategy and how the administration views the intervention paradigm.

Obama beat Hillary and won the election in no small part because he was the first credible person to articulate the correct position on the war of necessity in Afghanistan, in contrast to the war of choice in Iraq. Voters, at every stage, have endorsed his view.

As for the security situation, it has improved. Still doesn’t make the war justified, and nor can lessening violence be equated with substantive political progress.

Yeah, I know all this - I’m just saying you’re setting the bar awfully high for what ought to count.

As it is, Obama has been tremendously magnanimous in not nailing the Republican Party and making them own the true magnitude of their failure as a party. The Republicans would never in a million years run the kind of inclusive campaign Obama has run; indeed, they’ve made a national political movement out of mocking liberals, deriding them as sub-human godless scum, terrorist appeasers, etc. Obama has refused indulge the obvious truth of a complete a systemic failure in values and philosophy and the one-sidedness of the problems. I think that in itself is praiseworthy and admirable.

I don’t think it’s SOP at all, especially not in the hugely polarised political environment of today. It’s commendable choice which contrasts to recent history.

I would agree in general, but the entitlement issue is coming to bear, recession or not. That has to be reformed in a fundamental way. Social Security and Medicare dwarf the rest of the budget - defense is a drop in the bucket by comparison.

There is currently no line-item veto for the President. Are you saying he will not cut spending until he has one?

I’ve heard this one before - politicians often talk about “reducing wasteful spending” as a way of pretending that we can balance the budget without any painful choices.

The trouble being, waste doesn’t amount to a spit in the ocean compared to the total that the federal government spends. And most of what the government spends is entitlements - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid - and interest on the debt. What efficiencies are we going to implement in Social Security?

If you are talking UHC, well Clinton tried that, without a great deal of success. Even if Obama can do what Hilary could not, and even if UHC will save money in the long run, that is a very, very large increase in the role of the government, and you have merely replaced one incredibly expensive entitlement with one even bigger. And it will cost a lot to transition to single payer, and spending will have to increase to cover that, plus covering all the currently uninsured.

So UHC is not going to save us any money during Obama’s first term. And he will have to jack up the deficit, or raise taxes during a (probable) recession. Plus, a tax cut for 95% of the electorate.

So they should just be glad he doesn’t call them the evil, horrible nazis they so obviously are.

Thanks for your broadminded contribution to moving things forward and being the change we’ve been waiting for. :rolleyes:

It’s a simple formula really: What is the goal? What are the actions that will help achieve that goal?

If including a particular wind-bag will help achieve the goal due to indirect benefits that outweigh direct or indirect negatives, then it is the pragmatic thing to do.

For this conservative…

ditto all that’s been said on the Fairness Doctrine & the 2nd Amendment,

only pass the Employee Free Choice Act if it mandates secret ballot elections among the workers to bring a union into a business,

ditch the Freedom of Choice Act & move to the center on the issue.

Thank you for catastrophically failing to read my remarks in the context they were made, and ignoring all the specific, concrete proposals I offered towards reconciliation and give-and-take, in the spirit of the thread you made.

Some people are just determined to feel insulted, I guess. Sorry, but I can’t help you if you want to see a bright line demarcation where there is none.

All I was saying was that you aren’t acknowledging the extent to which Obama has already campaigned precisely on the post-partisan premise. I was pointing out that by political convention and common sense he would be entirely within rights to attack the Republican Party collectively for their failures, and thereby doom their brand to the kind of pejorative boogeyman legacy they themselves used to forever taint the word liberal in American parlance.

I never said that was desirable - but my point is there is insufficient appreciation for exactly how magnanimous Obama’s approach really has been in the spirit of inclusive politics. I trying to point out that it is departure from political norms, and that upon reflection, I sure you know full well if the situation was reversed the Republicans would never reach out to the Democrats from a position of such strength.

I disagree that blow-hard Republicans are in any way helpful to the goals of the party or to the health of the nation. There are plenty of good moderate Republicans, although many of them are out of office or from a different era, who would serve the same image purpose, whilst also actually contributing to a team of rivals dynamic Obama wants to bring to his governance.

What I dislike is this sense from certain quarters that Republicans basically deserve to be in all key positions in his Administration for no other reason than that they’re Republicans - no matter how offensive or contrary they are to the kernel of Democratic Party values, or how poisonously they have run against the party in the past.

Thanks for the apologies, I guess, but I think you underestimate the role of executive discussion groups in shaping policy. What Obama has actually told us, over and over, is that he wants to have a policy dialogue which considers the best arguments from differing viewpoints. This doesn’t happen without including party leaders in policy deliberations, which requires more than simply bringing them into a room and leading the discussion. It needs positive outreach, which may seem like an empty word to conservatives, because, frankly and with no apologies, Republicans haven’t done it in Washington since before Clinton’s first term.

As I tried to point out, “post partisanship” does not mean acting without regard to your partisan goals, it means assessing those goals without ideology and finding where the commonalities are. If you conflate this with a lack of partisan preference, or with some idea of a political center that should be staked out, you’re certain to be disappointed by Obama. Of course he’s not going to say “I think you’re wrong but we’ll try it your way,” because he’s neither incompetent nor faithless. He’s surely going to do some of the things his opponents want done though, simply through sharing some of the same goals and giving fair voice to good arguments.

As IClaudius keeps pointing out, we used to call this good governance.

Also, say goodbye to the PATRIOT act, kill that thing dead, end warrantless wiretapping, basically remove the “do-nothing-only-passed-to-make-it-look-like-we’re-doing-something” invasionary crap introduced after 9/11

dissolve the DHS, allow simple tools back on airliners, a skyjacker/terrorist has more to fear from an aircraft full of pissed-off passengers sporting knives anyway, any hijacking attempts would be mercifully short

"Senator Obama does not support re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters,” said press secretary Michael Ortiz in an e-mail to B&C late Wednesday.

I have never, ever seen any credible evidence that Obama ever stated he wanted to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. Did I miss something, or was it simply a tactic used by the talking heads to scare their listeners?

And I think you’re high if you think many hannity listeners would re-assess anything.

He should speak out for the 2nd amendment, court the NRA, go hunting. Gun laws might be 2nd only to abortion in keeping away people who would otherwise vote Democrat.