It’s really interesting watching David Brooks grow increasingly…unusual. Apparently the President has worked some sort of magic spell on Brooks, and now Brooks follows him around, slobbering and explaining away his foibles. It’s like he’s a Moonie or something.
Or, I suppose an alternate explanation is that Obama operatives have something on Brooks, something they hold over his head. And, it is “write certain things, or it all comes out”. So, he is forced to write certain things, foolish things, things that make him look disconnected from reality. That’s a long shot, but it’s also hard to explain the profoundly weird things Brooks is saying.
The fact is, Obama is as he always has been, a center-left pragmatic reformer. Every time he tries to articulate a grand philosophy — from his book “The Audacity of Hope” to his joint-session health care speech last September — he always describes a moderately activist government restrained by a sense of trade-offs. He always uses the same on-the-one-hand-on-the-other sentence structure. Government should address problems without interfering with the dynamism of the market.
Well, what “Obama describes” is hardly the thing to look at when analyzing him. All politicians describe what they are doing in easygoing, measured terms. The fact that his sentence structure is balanced is hardly the thing to look at. And of course, every leftists believes that government can “address problems” without damaging the economy. Every far left politician thinks government can micromanage everything with no ill effects. Obama is no different.
No, you need to look at what he has done. In foreign affairs, he has adopted the apology approach, the dictators are nice people approach of the far left. It hasn’t worked, of course.
In domestic policy, he has loaded the country with crippling debt, and wants to double or triple that. This so shocking that rational people are scratching their heads, wondering why Obama would pursue such an obviously dangerous policy. The only rational explanation for this comes from the far left. The Cloward Pivens strategy. Since we know Obama was heavily involved in Alinsky-like political theory, the Cloward Pivens strategy seems at least plausible, if unlikely.
He moved to take over the car companies. Rather than simply save them, he installed the Unions as the new real owner of those companies. This is a far left dream of the highest order. Obama ignored the rightful legal claims of Chrysler bondholders, and instead installed the UAW with 65% of the ownership of the revamped company. The UAW owns about 18% of GM.
Power to the people, I guess.
And then there is the hard left idiocy of Health Care Reform. Hey, let’s take over 16% of the economy and play with it. Let’s let the eggheads from the universities design a plan that could never work in the real world. Sure, that’s the ticket.
Liberals are wrong to call him weak and indecisive. He’s just not always pursuing their aims. Conservatives are wrong to call him a big-government liberal. That’s just not a fair reading of his agenda.
Take health care. He has pushed a program that expands coverage, creates exchanges and moderately tinkers with the status quo — too moderately to restrain costs. To call this an orthodox liberal plan is an absurdity. It more closely resembles the center-left deals cut by Tom Daschle and Bob Dole, or Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney. Obama has pushed this program with a tenacity unmatched in modern political history; with more tenacity than Bill Clinton pushed his health care plan or George W. Bush pushed Social Security reform.
The big difference with Obamacare is its stunning deceptions. The whole idea is to put us on an irreversible course toward full blown government health care. Once Obama’s “tinkering” is done, government will be dictating what goes into every insurance policy. None of the proposals in the past has ever gone this far. Government will be dictating what insurance companies can charge. None of the proposals in the past has gone this far. The net result is they will force private insurance to collapse, leaving only the government to fill the void. That is deeply left wing. It is hardly centrist.
Take education. Obama has taken on a Democratic constituency, the teachers’ unions, with a courage not seen since George W. Bush took on the anti-immigration forces in his own party. In a remarkable speech on March 1, he went straight at the guardians of the status quo by calling for the removal of failing teachers in failing schools. Obama has been the most determined education reformer in the modern presidency.
Shock! Politician calls for removal of failing teachers! As we all know, most politicians stand up and insist that failing teachers be kept in the classroom. Look at what Obama did: he funneled 100 BILLION dollars into education via the Stimulus bill. This is an incredibly large amount of money and most of it is being wasted. Put aside the shear deception and political trickery involved in putting the most massive federal aid to education – ever – in a bill designed to help jump start the economy. It was the most massive pay off to a political constituency ever. It was a raiding of the federal treasury, simply to throw money at a solidly Democratic voting bloc. Our children and grandchildren will be paying that money back for years. The money paid for teachers to keep their jobs during the recession. No other major group was seriously helped – about 300,000 teachers kept their jobs, while every carpenter, truck driver, delivery man, computer technician, and salesman was thrown out of theirs. Teachers are special.
No Obama has not stood up to anyone, He is showering them with special benefits.
There are only two areas where Obama can successfully avoid the lable of left wing extremist. In Iraq, he has been smart enough not to withdraw precipitously, because such action would lead to chaos and massive death. He knows this would be more of a problem for his administration than bugging out would be. In Afghanistan, same thing. There is a war to be won, or we can let the whole place descend into chaos. He does not have much of a choice there either. Stay and fight, or run away and cause a multitude of more serious problems.
The other area is in detainee treatment. Apart from some spectacularly stupid decisions – such as trying KSM in NYC, and his administration’s failure to deal with the Underwear bomber effectively, he has adopted most of the Bush administration’s policies. This was wise. He did disgustingly try to attack the Bush administration attornies, but that quickly failed when Dick Cheney rose to stop it.
So really, Obama is a centrist on two things: Afghanistan and much of his terrorism policy. Other than that, it is full speed ahead for wacky left wing solutions.