Wednesday, July 27, 2011

America, Meet Your President

Here is the opening paragraphs of an excellent article by Bruce Bartlett explaining the wolf in sheep's clothing that got sold to America in 2008:
There is no question that Barack Obama is one of our most enigmatic presidents. Despite having published two volumes of memoirs before being elected president, we really don’t know that much about what makes him tick. The ongoing debate over the deficit and the debt limit is clarifying what I think he is: a Democratic Richard Nixon.

To explain what I mean, I first have to tell some history.
Barlett has done American's a great service by going on to provide an honest history of their politics in this article. It reveals how politicians on left and right sold themselves under the party banner, but proceeded to do the opposite of what their party sold them as doing. He explains how FDR's social innovations got entrenched and how the radical right for decades has determinedly worked to reverse these advances for the bottom 90% of society in favour of the agenda of the ultra-rich.

Here is the key bit of the story about Obama:
Thus Obama took office under roughly the same political and economic circumstances that Nixon did in 1968 except in a mirror opposite way. Instead of being forced to manage a slew of new liberal spending programs, as Nixon did, Obama had to cope with a revenue structure that had been decimated by Republicans.

Liberals hoped that Obama would overturn conservative policies and launch a new era of government activism. Although Republicans routinely accuse him of being a socialist, an honest examination of his presidency must conclude that he has in fact been moderately conservative to exactly the same degree that Nixon was moderately liberal.

Here are a few examples of Obama's effective conservatism:
  • His stimulus bill was half the size that his advisers thought necessary;

  • He continued Bush’s war and national security policies without change and even retained Bush’s defense secretary;

  • He put forward a health plan almost identical to those that had been supported by Republicans such as Mitt Romney in the recent past, pointedly rejecting the single-payer option favored by liberals;
  • He caved to conservative demands that the Bush tax cuts be extended without getting any quid pro quo whatsoever;

  • And in the past few weeks he has supported deficit reductions that go far beyond those offered by Republicans.
Further evidence can be found in the writings of outspoken liberals such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has condemned Obama’s conservatism ever since he took office.
How has this trick of selling Obama as the great liberal "hope", the promised one, the one with "change you can believe in" that ends up being a conservative agenda? How has this trick been pulled on the electorate? The same way John Edwards could run for President and hide the fact that he was a sex fiend busily having an extra-marrital affair and paying hush money to his love interest while his wife was dying of cancer.

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