November 20th, 2008
05:50 PM ET
6 years ago

Schneider: A sign of new politics?

 Emanuel met with Republicans on Capitol Hill Thursday.
Emanuel met with Republicans on Capitol Hill Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - What's the significance of Obama sending Rahm Emanuel to meet with Republican leaders of Congress?

It's one more piece of evidence that President-elect Obama intends to pursue a new kind of politics.

President-elect Obama reaches out to his former rival Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state.

He meets with John McCain to discuss issues they agree on. Obama described that meeting between his former opponent as "a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country."

The President-elect advises Senate Democrats not to be too harsh on Joe Lieberman for being disloyal to the party. Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, is now a Independent Senator who is allied with the Democrats. But Lieberman was a major supporter of Republican John McCain during the presidential campaign and there were many Democrats who were hoping Lieberman would be punished for those actions by the loss of his chairmanship of the powerful Homeland Security Committee. Lieberman kept the chairmanship, and credited Obama, saying "I know that my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus were moved not only by what Senator Reid (the Senate Majority Leader) said about my longtime record, but by the appeal from President-elect Obama himself that the nation unite now to confront our very serious problems."

Now Obama sends the man he's named as his White House Chief of Staff to meet with Republican leaders of Congress.

Emanuel said he hopes the meetings will spread "good will for ideas from both parties to solve challenges."

Could this be the new kind of politics Obama promised to bring to Washington?

"Understand, if we want to meet the challenges of this moment, we need to get beyond the old ideological debates and divides between left and right," said Obama on November third, the day before the presidential election.

Obama will not be the first President who set out to end the red-versus-blue divide that has defined American politics since the 1960s. Bill Clinton called himself a New Democrat and promised a third way. George W. Bush talked about "compassionate conservatism" and said he would be a uniter and not a divider.

But the two Baby Boomer presidents ended up being defined by the cultural divide. Clinton by his liberal values - gun control, gays in the military, abortion rights - more than his centrist policies. Bush by his conservatism more than his compassion.

Obama was born at the tail end of the Baby Boom. The new generation he brings to power – some call it "Generation O’’ - does not identify with the left-right battles of the sixties.

In his book, "The Audacity of Hope," Obama writes about moving beyond "the psychodrama of the Baby Boom generation, a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago."

It was Hillary Clinton who ran as the tough partisan fighter, saying "If I tell you I will fight for you, that is exactly what I intend to do."

Obama's style is different. Not partisan or ideological like the Baby Boomers. Obama's style is casual, cool, connected, like Generation O: the "Whazzup, dude?" approach to politics.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
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  1. rachel
    November 20, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
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