The press rewrites Dem history

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Keep your eyes on this meme as it continues to gain momentum inside the Beltway, as it anxiously awaits the arrival of the Obama administration.

The D.C. Establishment, which includes the press corps, seems jittery that Democrats might actually govern from the left following their impressive electoral gains. That's a bad idea, the talking heads insist, because the nation is fundamentally conservative.

Forget that the facts don't back that up. Here's where the revision comes in: Pundits keep warning Obama that he shouldn't make the same mistakes Bill Clinton made in 1993 when he arrived in Washington, D.C. and ran into all kinds of political setbacks because he, you guessed it, governed from the left!

See, according to the pundits, it was Clinton's run-away liberalism that did him in early on during his first months in the White House. And wouldn't you know the Post's Ruth Marcus hits that very point today, insisting that Dems need to "resist" the urge be liberals:

Yet the experience of President Bill Clinton's rocky early months -- remember gays in the military? the BTU tax? -- suggests the steep political price of governing in a way that is, or seems, skewed to the left. This risk is particularly acute for Obama, whose opponents have painted him as a leftist extremist. The good news is that his advisers seem exquisitely aware of this trap and determined not to fall into it.

The truth however, is a bit different. And the truth simply does not support the revisionist history about Clinton that's being spread around in attempt to fend Obama off from tilting to the left. As one GOP corporate lobbyist recently told Politico:

He recalled the arrival of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Rather than going after business, Clinton presented a moderate image and reached out to the corporate community. Clinton's goal was to "co-opt a portion of the business community" through his positions on free trade and other issues, said this lobbyist. And the strategy worked pretty effectively with global corporations.

But none of that matters, because the pundits are convinced that Clinton (and Dems) circa 1993, were left-wingers. That's what Time's Mark Halperin said on MSNBC this morning; that Clinton selected "left-wing people" to serve in his first administration. Y'know, people like Warren Christopher and Lloyd Bentsen.

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