Monday, December 22, 2008

Towards The Center, Still OnThe Left

Chris Bowers observes that Barack Obama's Cabinet is to the right of Congressional Democrats, containing a higher fraction of DLC members, plus two Republicans, against only one Progressive Caucus member. But Executive branch always gravitates towards the center. The Bush Administration was to the left of the median House Republican (though not by much), Bill Clinton was to the right of House Democrats; Poppy was so far left of House Republicans they wouldn't vote for his budget; Reagan ... uhh ... I'll handwave over that one since I don't know enough about the makeup of Congress at the time; Jimmy Carter famously feuded with liberal Hill Democrats; and now we are all the way back to Nixon/Ford, and a time when parties were much less ideologically coherent.

The benchmark ought to be whether or not the Obama Administrations's proposals and personnel land him in the center of Congressional Democrats. DW-NOMINATE shows that for the 109th Congress, Barack Obama was just to the left of the median Senate Democrat, and thus was probably roughly in line with the median House Democrat. Hillary Clinton was just to the right of the Senate Median. Salazar was clearly in the rightmost third. Tom Daschle was just to the right of the Senate Median in the 107th. Rahm Emanuel was to the right of the House median, but not by much. It's harder to gauge the leanings of the DLCers who weren't in Congress, but other than Richardson's balanced budget fetish and pro-gun stance he campaigned as a standard issue Democrat. Compared to Bill Clinton's cabinet it is much further to the left.

Sidenote: you may have noticed that links are now bold. It's not Jennifer Palmieri's doing; they were just too hard to see earlier. Sidebar links may go back to non-bold at some point if the prove to be too distracting.
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