The old game?
Nordlinger at NRO
commenting on last night's debate:What’s depressing, to a person like me, is that Obama has mastered the trick of coming off as perfectly moderate — even when your career and thought have been very different. Listening to Obama last night, you would have taken him to be a Sam Nunn, David Boren type. No ACORN, no Ayers, no Wright, no community-organizin’ radicalism, no nothing. He certainly knows what it takes to appeal to people in a general election. Then, once he’s in — if he gets in — he will govern as far to the left as possible. ... That's the old game.
Must admit the mention of Boren is what caught my old Okie eyes. But there's a basic problem with the "old game". Nordlinger has it backwards, and in recent years there isn't a game at all. Traditionally
a brand-D candidate will campaign hard left and rule closer to the center, which is the opposite
of Nordlinger's assumption. But look at the most recent D presidents, Carter and Clinton. Carter campaigned midline and tried to rule midline, though he was so totally incompetent that his intentions didn't matter much. Clinton campaigned like Boren and ruled like ... well, actually he ruled to the right of Reagan in domestic terms. No Republican president has ever turned back the welfare-state tide; in fact all R presidents allowed welfare to increase wildly. Clinton phased out welfare to the urban poor and also phased out subsidies to farmers. In other words, he did EXACTLY what he promised to do, and his promise was "conservative" by all normal definitions.
Nordlinger's rule, "Campaign to the center, rule to the left" does apply to recent Republican presidents, and it applies most dramatically to Sultan Bush, who began by imposing the largest new entitlement program since LBJ and following Commissar Teddy's lead on education. He then proceeded to outdo LBJ at every step, finishing off with this week's attempt to collapse the entire economy at once.
Bush's rule might be expressed as "Campaign like Pat Robertson, rule like Alger Hiss."