- Jul 16, 2010
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
Obama is essentially a centrist. His world view cannot be easily consigned to the familiar categories of left and right. In fact, those categories have been obsolescent since George W. Bush effectively nationalized the banks and Obama won the nomination on a center-right cultural platform. No matter how simplistic competing cable networks try to make things, when you have a Republican president behaving like a European socialist and a Democratic president who opposes gay marriage and has added troops to Afghanistan, you are living in a volatile ideological age.
And yet many Americans—or at least many politically engaged Americans, who are the ones who count most in such matters—appear to think Obama has been a revolutionary who is only now learning his lesson. In an interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News, Sen. Evan Bayh, the Indiana Democrat, said, "There's going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this … If you lose Massachusetts and that's not a wake-up call, there's no hope of waking up." Bayh continued, "The only way we are able to govern successfully in this country is by liberals and progressives making common cause with independents and moderates. Whenever you have just the furthest-left elements of the Democratic Party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country, that's not going to work too well." It is a neat and familiar storyline. But that does not make it accurate.
few counterintuitive points: Obama was not about to socialize American medicine. The president's health-care plan was to the right of where Richard Nixon was on the issue more than 35 years ago. The bailouts of Wall Street and Detroit automakers either began under the previous administration or seemed essential to averting greater economic calamity. (A tough sell, these preventive wars. "It's always hard in politics to make the case that things would have been worse if this or that had not happened," Obama counselor David Axelrod told me last week.) On taxes and discretionary spending, the president has been to the right of center. He wants to end the Bush tax cuts in order to return rates to Reagan-era levels. And he has been more successful at trimming discretionary spending than George W. Bush was late in his reign. Unemployment is grim, but presidents have historically proved unable to do much about joblessness in the short run unless they go even further than Obama went in the stimulus—which, given Republican opposition, hardly seems practical even if it were desirable.
Obama is a centrist President, and this is a very difficult thing for the left and right wing media in this country. Because he does not fit the clean and simple mold of a liberal president it is difficult for the right in this country to figure out exactly how to label him. Because it would be political suicide for them to actually start saying he is a centrist president they simply claim that his strange and new policies must be radical and far far left.There is much truth in this view, but a careful look back reveals, unsurprisingly, a more complex and contradictory story. Reagan genuinely believed that less government and lower taxes would make the country a better place. And so, in the summer of 1981, on a small outdoor table at his ranch in the mountains near Santa Barbara, Reagan signed the Kemp-Roth tax bill that lowered marginal income-tax rates. He was so happy that he kicked his leg in the air.
That Reagan then raised taxes in three successive years is the kind of complicating detail that a man like Obama knows, and from which he might draw some guidance, or at least reassurance. The lesson of Reagan's record on taxes and spending is not that he was a hypocrite but that he was a pragmatist. He knew the world is a complicated place, things never quite work out the way you want them to, and you should do what you can when you can.
This is not true, as the article points out very well. Obama started office with very high approval ratings. These have dropped because liberals found out that they didn't elect a liberal president, they elected a centrist president and they are steaming mad about it.
Meacham: Obama's No Radical - Newsweek