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December 09, 2010

Obama and Triangulation 2.0

Jonathan Cohn notes that while President Obama's policy strategy has differed from Bill Clinton's efforts to compromise with Republicans, "triangulation can take different forms" and Obama is definitely triangulating.

"Clinton's version was all about splitting the difference between right and left... With Obama, the triangulation isn't so much ideological as it is methodological. He's made clear his strong preference for Democratic and, yes, liberal values. During the health care fight, he dropped the public option but never wavered in his position that it was a good idea... But Obama has drawn an implicit equivalence between what he considers the extremists in both parties--the nihilists on the right, who would disavow even their own ideas for the sake of defeating Democrats, and the purists on the left, who would reject even reasonable compromises for the sake of drawing sharp ideological divisions."

Greg Sargent also sees Obama's "constant quest to compromise" as "more about temperament and process than about occupying the ideological 'center,'" but he shies away from calling it triangulation.


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