On Hardball tonight (I was bouncing between all three cable news networks—Karl Rove was on Hannity & Colmes talking about how Bush was successful and we all didn’t get it) Chris Matthews was asking how Barack Obama was going to govern. Mainly he was trying to get to the bottom of whether we should expect a left or center approach in the near future.
In the main segment he had on a Democrat source and also Todd Harris, a Republican strategist who has been on all the channels of late. At one point Todd responded to a question by grabbing one of the new talking points of Republicans by trying to state that this election was historic but that it wasn’t any kind of mandate.
What a load of crap. Thankfully Matthews unloaded on Harris and told him flat-out that he was talking with a forked tongue. He pointed out that no matter how a Republican won they immediately would call it a mandate from the electorate even when Ronald Reagan won with just 51% of the vote and George W. Bush won without getting the most votes!
The Right’s latest angle is to try and defuse Obama by convincing all of us that he barely squeaked by and, thus, should govern from the center. Of course other pundits tie into this lark by following it up with the equally false position that the country is most center-right in its politics. It’s only that way if you plan to give the vote to empty square miles owned by Republicans in the middle of the country.
For what it’s worth, not only was the last election historic, it was a mandate. Obama won by 7% with 53% of the vote and won by more than 8 million votes. All of that in an election that had only 1.1% more voters than in 2004. What that tells you given the increases in youth voters and the minority voting is that Republicans were so disappointed that they didn’t turn out. They would rather risk Obama than vote for John McCain.
In 2004 Bush won with only 286 electoral votes, 3 million less votes and a much closer percentage and he called it a mandate.
This clearly qualifies as a mandate.