November 9, 2008 at 8:19AM
by Jim DiPeso
First, a hearty congratulations to President-elect Obama. With a compelling life story, a strong message, and a superb ground game, he seized a moment in history. And, he gave us Republicans a thorough pasting. In many ways, we deserved it.
Already, the fight for the party's soul is on. The hard right has already begun plotting a campaign to push the party further to the margins of the spectrum. Those of us on the center-right had better fight back.
Because, as Margaret Thatcher once said, politics is like an airplane. The right and left wings may provide lift, but the middle is where the brains are. Alas, if only she were a bit younger and born in the USA. Maggie in 2012!
Now, to add my bit to the trillions of bytes of gratuitous advice that our president-elect is receiving. Already, the fault lines in the Democratic Party are showing. Henry Waxman is making a play to take the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee away from John Dingell.
Energy and Commerce is among the most powerful committees in the House. Energy and Commerce is where next year's climate bill will live or die.
Waxman means to give the committee a hard leftward push. Old man Dingell, who will not go down without a fight, will keep the committee tacking down the center.
While it's not for any mere president to say how a committee of Congress should organize itself, Obama ought to signal that he means to govern from the center. Especially on an issue so fraught with potential conflict and so critical to the future of the world as climate change.
The climate bill must be structured to secure a broad buy-in. A party-line bill that pleases one set of interests but alienates others will not succeed. It must succeed.
Here's how President-elect Obama can send that signal: Make Arnold Schwarzenegger his energy and climate czar. One gets the sense that Arnold would fancy the title of czar. All kidding aside, he has a proven track record of pulling competing interests, Democrats and Republicans, towards the center and getting their agreement on climate legislation.
One more thing, Mr. President-elect. Ring up John McCain and see about getting his help on pushing the climate bill through. He asked the citizenry for one more mission. Give him one.
With Schwarzenegger heading up climate policy and McCain lending his political capital, the odds of Obama delivering a good climate bill will go up tremendously.
Mr. President-elect, what do you think?