The biggest problem with the Third Way argument, though, connects to the fascinating back and forth between Obama and progressive interviewers in recent weeks: the palpable frustration expressed by, say, Jon Stewart in his interview is far less about having to make compromises to get things done, and far more with the insider-y ways deals were cut and decisions were made re what to compromise on. This is what Third Way and other pundits who argue for moderation never seem to understand: their version of centrism and the rest of the country's are very different.>Exactly right. The Washington Insiders have consistently gotten things badly wrong, even when there have been people who told them they were not getting the nature of the problems right and not solving them. That has been especially true with economics, where Krugman was right that the stimulus was too small to work adequately but Obama was neither willing to fight for a larger one nor was he willing to explain to the voters what he was actually doing and enlist their help to get Congress to act!
This is Obama's leadership failure. He has been a backroom deal maker and a manager, but he has utterly failed to lead the country. He makes his deals, then he submits his view to the tender mercies of the Congress and he accepts the results they chew up and spit out. But he has never submitted his judgment directly to the public to convince the public what direction America should take.
The result is that America is getting the inadequate and lobbyist-mangled beltway wisdom out of Washington along with being chastised for not supporting the "superior" wisdom of the Washington insiders.
Obama may have had to go the backroom inside the beltway route to get health care passed. I personally think he did. But even there had he engaged better with the public, the result would have been better. That is what happened with the financial overhaul bill.
Now, a week before the election, Obama is on the hustings trying to get out the base vote so that he can get a Congress back that he can still work with. But the Conservatives and the multimillionaire oligarchs and the foreign-owned fascist FOX TV has gotten to the public before Obama did. Obama is playing defensive politics from a deep hole, and whether much can be done this late date is really questionable. Had Obama offered leadership to America for the last two years it still wouldn't be very good, but since he has not done that it will be worse.
Now America has thrown the structure of Congress in Washington to the tender mercies of a badly misinformed public. It is a dangerous experiment to see whether democracy can be abused and misinformed and still show wisdom on election day.