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"Center-Right Nation" Watch - Doug Schoen Edition

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Doug Schoen is the DLC-affiliated pollster for Republicans like Mike Bloomberg - the guy who bashes progressive organizations from the right, the genius strategist who makes his name on perpetually telling Democrats to capitulate to Republicans on major issues (Think about where Barack Obama would be if he had followed this genius's advice and supported the Iraq War, for instance).

Yet, because the media rewards anyone who is a reliable progressive basher, Schoen is still billed as a political "expert" on the pages of fringe publications like the Wall Street Journal's editorial page (not to be confused with the much more credible news section of that same paper):

"This election is not a mandate for Democratic policies. Rather, it is a wholesale rejection of the policies of George W. Bush, Republicans, and to a lesser extent, John McCain...As New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has made clear, we don't have the money or flexibility to do everything Barack Obama wants to do...If the Democrats govern as if there is no Republican Party, they are likely headed to the kind of reaction that Bill Clinton faced when he made the same misjudgment after the 1992 election victory."

Laughably, Schoen contradicts himself in a span of two sentences - saying a Democratic victory on Tuesday will mean no mandate for Democratic policies, even while admitting an Obama election would be "a wholsale rejection" of conservatism. That's like saying the 1980 election was a rejection of liberalism, but not an embrace of conservatism - an assertion that no pollster would ever make without expecting to be laughed at. In our (unfortunately) binary politics, referendum elections like this year's by definition couple rejection of one party and ideology with the embrace of another party and ideology.

Schoen knows all this - and so his column is yet another preemptive effort to claim that a Democratic victory on Tuesday obviously - self-evidently! - means America is more conservative than ever. While he doesn't employ the exact phrase "center-right nation" as the rest of the Punditburo has, he's echoing the same message: Namely, that no matter how big a progressive victory may occur on election day, no matter how many polls show Americans are progressive on issues, a President Obama will face "the kind of reaction that Bill Clinton faced when he made the same misjudgment after the 1992 election victory."

Of course, Clinton did not make a judgment that America was progressive after his election, nor did he decide to "govern as if there was no Republican Party." Indeed, before he ever tackled health care, his first legislative initiative was joining with the Republican Party to pass NAFTA (and I'm not picking on Clinton here - I'm just stating the undebatable facts).

But Schoen's version of the Clinton storyline is considered the assumed truth today, after a 15 year effort by conservatives and "centrists" to create a progressive-rejecting narrative out of it. Should Obama win, that same narrative will be used by the right to deter an Obama administration from pursuing any transformative progressive policies. It's actually brilliant from a marketing standpoint - self-declared conservatives like Krauthammer and Meacham tell Republicans we still live in a "center-right nation," while so-called "centrists" (read: corporatists) like Schoen use historical revisionism about Clinton and cite the Innocent Bystander Fables of people like Schumer to deliver the same message to Democrats.

Come November 5, this propaganda is only going to get worse.

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