The NYT's Paul Krugman has a good column this morning about Reagan, Clinton, and Obama:
The candidate’s defenders argue that he’s just being pragmatic — that he needs to do whatever it takes to win, and win big, so that he has the power to effect major change. But critics argue that by engaging in the same “triangulation and poll-driven politics” he denounced during the primary, Mr. Obama actually hurts his election prospects, because voters prefer candidates who take firm stands.
In any case, what about after the election? The Reagan-Clinton comparison suggests that a candidate who runs on a clear agenda is more likely to achieve fundamental change than a candidate who runs on the promise of change but isn’t too clear about what that change would involve.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that Mr. Obama really is a centrist, after all.
Read the whole thing -- Krugman does a good job laying out the differences between Reagan's approach to politics, Clinton's style, and the road that Obama is heading down. The thing about Reagan is that he governed much more pragmatically, and a willingness to compromise -- but as a candidate he was a lot more prone to saying what he thought and less what some focus group told him than any other major candidate in recent memory. Of course, people like Krugman (or lowly me) disagree with some of Reagan's core beliefs, especially on the economic side -- the "hope" was that maybe Obama could be a progressive version of Reagan, with a confident new direction for a nation that feels lost right now.
So far, we're still stuck in the focus group.
I'm very interested in this topic, which dovetails with my newest project. I could tell you more about it today, but I'd have to kill you -- details to hopefully come soon. It is very exciting, though.
P.S. I just saw on MSNBC that Olbermann has "a special comment" coming -- how much do you want to bet that it's an Obama bash?