Fixing Washington

January 13, 2009 3:55:00 PM PST
During the campaign, Barack Obama was often painted as a lefty liberal, a voice for progressive change in America. But since winning nine weeks ago, Obama has moved decisively to the right of center.

"There is not a blue state of America or a red state of America, there is only the United States of America," Obama said.

Hecampaigned on a promise to end the partisan divide in Washington, a promise of a new kind of politics.

He has worked with the Bush administration and called many Republicans for advice, including Peter King of Long Island.

"It couldn't have been a more pleasant or friendly call. Look, not that he called me, but the fact is he reached out to someone in the other party on a very significant issue, especially to New York, and that's Homeland Security," King said.

Obama has adopted a pragmatic, big tent philosophy of listening to many viewpoints, sort of what Abraham Lincoln did in turning to a team of rivals as his closest advisers.

With Obama, it's Democrats Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Joe Biden as Vice President, and Republicans Ray LaHood at Transportatation and Bill Gates at Defense.

"This is an olive branch and it's keeping with his politics, but will it actually reduce the level of bickering and gridlock we see in Congress? I wouldn't bet on that at all," Errol Louis of the New York Daily News said.

With his pragmatic, inclusive approach to governing, Obama has infuriated many on the left.

"The hell with bi-partisanship. I don't want him to work with the Republicans. The Republicans have been the problem," Elaine Brower of Miliary Families Speakl Out argued.

Brower is deeply disappointed in Obama. Her 27-year-old son, James, is now on his third tour of duty as a Marine in Iraq.

She is worried Obama's spirit of compromise will mean a war that never ends.

"We did the same thing with LBJ. We voted LBJ in to end the war and he escalated it. Everybody took to the streets and I have a feeling that's what's going to happen this time," she said.

Rather than the war, Obama is focused on a troubled economy.

For now there is a honeymoon of sorts; A sense of great hope that this president can indeed fix Washington. Can that mood last? In these difficult times, even some Republicans hope it will.

"The atmosphere in Washington, you've got a lot of Republicans who felt President Bush was treated badly and they want to even the score now with President Obama. And I saw what happened with the Democrats in 2001. They felt Bill Clinton had gotten a bad deal and they went after President Bush. This is a vicious cycle. It has to stop," King said.