There are a lot of easy to explain reasons why Barack Obama probably won’t come to Georgia to campaign on behalf of his newest best friend, Jim Martin. (I say newest because former Senate opponent and DeKalb county CEO Vernon Jones is still taking great pains to point out that Jim Martin voted for John Edwards in the Georgia Presidential Preference Primary, even though Edwards had already dropped out of the race).
Obama is, as he should be, building his team to manage the country through a set of unprecedented crisis. In addition, he may not want to unnecessarily risk capital on a race that is probably a loser for his side. The contrarian in me tells me there is one possible other good reason: Obama doesn’t want Jim Martin in the Senate.
Despite Martin’s snub in the primary, I don’t believe it is anything personal. It’s just business. Obama is already taking heat from the Netroots, those left of the left, who created him. They aren’t happy with some of his early appointments, and believe they are too centrist. They are beginning to fear that Obama may actually try to govern from the center, instead of the lurch to the left that they believe they were promised in the primary.
The Dems picked up Senate seat 58 yesterday. There’s a very good chance that they’ll pick up seat 59 in Minnesota when the recount, or the recount of the recount, or the court interpretation of the recount, gives the Dems the numbers they want there.
If Saxby loses, and the Dems have their 60 seats, they have no excuses on why the far left can’t be placated. All the looney fringe stuff that the Dems use to fire up their base will either have to be voted on, or the Dems will have to explain to the base that they were just being used, and they’ll have to settle for far less “progress” than they were promised.
Fessing up to the base isn’t easy. Just ask the pro-lifers in the Georgia General Assembly who refuse to vote on the “Human Life Amendment”.
As long as the filibuster remains a technical possibility, Republicans can continue to be the official excuse why the democrats aren’t able to pass their “progressive” agenda.
I believe Barack Obama is an intelligent man, and can make political calculations with the best of them. I also believe he learned from the first two Clinton years that if you over-reach, your majority status can easily become a memory. And I believe that, while there will be some serious moves to the left under President Obama, he will want to carefully pick and choose those issues, and pepper them with some center or center right initiatives to give him proper cover.
As such, Jim Martin may have to be a sacrificial lamb. Saxby Chambliss may need to remain in the Senate to provide the Obama administration the excuse to not do all the things the netroots believe must be done to make the world an eco/vegan/carbon-free/peta-friendly paradise.
And I’m fine with that.