The story that's getting a lot of play today is Barack Obama's separate meetings with a group of conservative columnists over a (sacrificial?) lamb dinner over at George Will's place last night, followed today by a no frills gathering with "liberals" (Andrew Sullivan?) at his transition office. No need for any fuss. Obama's the guy who said he'd talk to Ahmadinejad, remember, so I guess he's willing to break bread with Bill Kristol as well.
What's Obama up to? Jacob Heilbrunn at the Huffington Post has a pretty good idea:
It indicates that Obama is completing the job of detaching the conservative intellectual elite from the GOP itself.
Kristol, Brooks, and Krauthammer are all neoconservatives. Krauthammer was a speechwriter for vice-president Walter Mondale during the Carter administration. He moved right. Brooks has been making conciliatory noises about Obama for much of the past year, and barely qualifies as a conservative any longer. George F. Will, a traditional conservative, has been denouncing George W. Bush for years. Talking with them is a shrewd move on Obama's part. It wouldn't even be surprising if some neocons (re)defect to the Democratic party.
No, it wouldn't be a surprise at all. There's a great shakeup going on in American politics, that has roots in the 1960s but seems to be accelerating. For better or worse, the parties seem to be completing a massive cross-over from where they stood at the time of the New Deal. The Democrats are becoming the party of white-collar workers (boosted by blacks and Latinos from all classes), dominating cities and now strong in older suburbs, while the Republicans are increasingly the party of blue-collar whites, especially in the Heartland and the Deep South (where the GOP's appeal includes more affluent folks.)
So the Wills, the Brooks, the Kaurthammers of the world are increasingly looking to side with their social class rather than their political heritage. That's why you wouldn't see a radio rabble-rouser like a Rush Limbaugh or a Sean Hannity at the Obama gathering. And as America's economy, for better or worse, becomes more white-collar each passing year, the numbers must look grim for the GOP.