After months of saying “no” and “hell no,” the American people, represented by the voters of Massachusetts, sent a clear message to President Obama; quit your head long run towards Socialism! While I’m not sure they’ve gotten the message, the election of Scott Brown has clearly taken the wind out of the Administration’s sails.
From his interview with George Stephanopoulos where he claimed that he and Scott Brown were elected under the same “hope” agenda, to his blatant and obvious attempt at populism when he introduced his bill to penalize banks on the day following the repudiation of placebocare, it’s clear that the Obama administration has lost their momentum and is seeking a way to get it back.
With his mojo deflated, pundits and talking heads have been filling airwaves and electronic and printed media asking what will Obama do next. In general, their question comes down to this; is Obama an ideologue who will not take no for an answer and continue to push his extreme left agenda or, will Obama become the reincarnation of Bill Clinton and learn the art of triangulation. This skill that will be required if he wants any success with what will surely become a much more Republican filled House and Senate.
I’ve claimed from the start that Obama is an ideologue. I have seen nothing in his character or agenda that suggested to me that he had anything other than a hard left perspective. From Jeremiah Wright to Van Jones to his full bore tilt to have government control or dictate to all major American industries, it looked like he was an ideologue’s ideologue.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading the book “The Argument” by Matt Bai. The book largely outlines the progression of the far left from theory on a slide show post 2002 elections, to the core of the Democrat party, and ultimately the presidency, by 2008. In this book, Bai reports on one of the first encounters that then, Senator Barack Obama, had with the nutroot bloggers.
In 2005, while debating John Roberts for chief justice, Patrick Leahy had come out to support Roberts. Obama said he would vote against Roberts but then supported Leahy’s position saying that those who didn’t accept diverse opinions were knee-jerk, amongst other things. As the story goes forward, Obama is roundly criticized by the nutroots for not being “pure” on this issue. Obama couldn’t handle the criticism so after brooding over it for a while, he wrote a two thousand word plus response which was posted on the nutroot’s holy site.
In this missive, Obama started by laying out the argument that the nutroots and their kind, were interested only in purity and that through enforcing this, eventually they would elect enough officials and the public would see just how right their positions are/were. He then explained why this philosophy was flawed. As quoted in the book, part of Obama’s response was:
I think this perspective misreads the American people. From traveling throughout Illinois and more recently around the country, I can tell you that Americans are suspicious of labels and supicious of jargon. They don’t think George Bush is mean-spirited or prejudiced, but have become aware that his administration is irresponsible and often incompetent. They don’t think that corporations are inherently evil (a lot of them work in corporations), but they recognize that big business, unchecked, can fix the game tot he detriment of working people and small entrepreneurs. They don’t think America is an imperialist brute, but are angry that the case to invade Iraq was exaggerated…
Bai follows up this section of Obama’s letter with his own interpretation and further Obama quotes:
If Democrats really wanted to win the trust of these voters, Obama lectured, they couldn’t go around demonizing those who disagreed with them, nor could they impose some kind of purity test on their elected leaders. “To the degree that we brook no dissent within the Democratic Party, and demand fealty to the one, “true” progressive vision for the country, we risk the very thoughtfulness and openness to new ideas that are required to move this country forward,” he said. Citing Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., Obama said the country’s most compelling voices had been those who could “speak with the utmost conviction about the great issues of the day without ever belittling those who opposed them, and without denying the limits of their own perspectives.”
Note that the bolded items are my embellishments.
Look back at the bolded items. Note how Obama, when addressing the nutroots was arguing directly against the attitude and policies that he has implemented as President! “Bush is a good man but wrong”, “Don’t blame corporations” and “America is not a brute” has been replaced by the exact opposite talking points in Obama’s presidency. “Recognizing, appreciating and considering diverse perspectives” has been replaced by a dogmatic “I won” mentality on every topic and approach.
What’s my point?
While I believe his core is that of a hard left ideologue, there have been times where Obama has at least, “talked” the game of a pragmatist. I don’t know whether the “talk” was just that, “talk”, and he never was a pragmatist, or whether perhaps, he really did/does view his election and the corresponding sweep of Congress, as a mandate for a hard left transformation of the country and thus believed being an ideologue was what the people voted for.
If Obama took 2008 as a mandate, I suspect we will see some moderating of his hard left agenda. I don’t think he’s going to recommend a reduction in taxes as a solution to our economic challenges. However, it’s possible that some of the talk of extending the Bush tax cuts for a year could be just this kind of pragmatism coming to the fore. On the other hand, if Obama is the ideologue he has portrayed in the first year of office, it will be a long three years.
If Obama continues to lead the nation believing that solutions come from the hard left, the results will be further increases in spending with little to no economic recovery. If Obama continues as an ideologue, we will see damage done that could well cause the United States to cease being a world economic power.
That last sentence is a pretty sobering thought and not one that I wrote just as hyperbole. The Obama presidency is at a cross roads. If Obama recognizes that the American people are not with him, at least on his approach, and with a bit of humility leads the Democrats back to a plan that Independents support, he may yet have a chance to shape America. If he doesn’t, any reshaping will result in long term damage to America. While Obama regularly refers to “the last eight years,” if Obama doesn’t understand the implications of the Brown election, we may have Presidents for a generation referring to “the four years of Obama” as the cause for the problems they then face!