On October 18, Newsweek ran a cover story titled “America the Conservative” by Jon Meacham, in which Meacham argued:
Should Obama win, he will have to govern a nation that is more instinctively conservative than it is liberal — a perennial reality that past Democratic presidents have ignored at their peril.
Yesterday, in an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose, Meacham again reiterated that America is “center-right.” Meacham suggested that progressives should not stake too much in Obama’s progressive agenda and that they’ll forgive him out of “faith” if he tacks to the right:
MEACHAM: I think progressives should be very careful feeling that the millennium is about to come, and you know, disease will be gone by Saturday and poverty by Monday. (Laughter)
This is a very practical man and I think that he’s a lot like Ronald Reagan in that it’s quite possible his core believers have such faith in him that they’ll forgive him his compromises, that — Reagan could raise taxes, Reagan could sign liberal abortion bills. Reagan could do all that, Reagan could grow government by 6 or 7 percent — and still be this figure. It’s just this side of possible that Obama will be able to govern what I believe is largely a center-right country.
As ThinkProgress has noted repeatedly, the country is not “center-right,” despite what the cover of Newsweek said last month. In fact, the center of the country favors progressive legislation like raising the minimum wage and providing universal health care, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) explained yesterday.
Based on the solidarity of progressives regarding past feuds over FISA legislation, for example, it’s highly unlikely liberal activists will just “forgive” Obama if he relents on his progressive agenda.
Meacham admitted that his article about conservatism was “probably going to look dumb, or at least out of step, for many months to come.” Apparently, he is happy making the same “dumb” argument well after Obama mustered the largest electoral victory ever on the most progressive agenda in 15 years.