A President’s Fake Centrism

Pages: 1 2

Tuesday morning Obama unveiled the latest stage in his reinvention campaign: A Wall Street Journal article announcing “a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.”

Hiring Wall Street and Clinton administration veteran William Daley as chief of staff, compromising with Republicans to extend Bush-era tax rates, and taking a measured response to the Tucson tragedy, President Obama has left commentators speculating that he will moderate his approach.

Dick Morris, architect of Bill Clinton’s post-’94 political rebound, believes the Tucson speech “signaled a real attempt to move to the center.” With co-writer Eileen McGann, he asks: “Will he be able to triangulate? Can he win in 2012 by moving to the center? A president always has the option of correcting his mistakes, reversing his positions, and governing the country by moving it in the right direct[ion]. And those kinds of presidents—like Bill Clinton—usually get themselves re-elected.”

Analyses such as Morris’s assume that the president, as political scientist David Mayhew once described Members of Congress, is just another of those “single-minded seekers of reelection.” But evidence, such as his pig-headed approach to health-care reform, suggests he sees himself as a transformative figure. The fundamental difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama is that the former is a politician; the latter, an ideologue. An agenda, not polls, primarily motivates the ideologue.

Bill Clinton’s move to the center could not have surprised anyone familiar with his political career. As the youngest governor in America, Bill Clinton alienated the Arkansas electorate by raising taxes and surrounding himself with outsiders, both geographically and culturally, from his constituents. After losing his reelection bid in 1980, Clinton regained his position in 1982 by recasting himself as a centrist.

A nearly identical scenario played out during his first presidential term. Offending the electorate through an aggressive push for gays in the military, bureaucratization of health care, and a ban on “assault” weapons, Clinton’s party, to borrow a word from President Obama, took a shellacking in the 1994 mid-term elections. Similarly, Obama pushed an unpopular health-care bill through Congress and a massive “stimulus” plan that further depressed the economy. The voters responded in November by awarding Republicans 63 additional House seats, six new Senate seats, and a half dozen more governorships.

But there’s where the similarities are likely to end. Though 2010 appeared as a déjà vu of 1994, it doesn’t follow that Obama will learn the same lessons that his Democratic presidential predecessor did.

Clinton’s move to the center was prefaced not only by a similar shift as governor, but was anticipated by genuinely centrist legislation championed during his first year as president. Clinton’s most substantial legislative legacy, the North America Free Trade Agreement, passed during his first year in office mainly because of Republican support.

Pages: 1 2

  • Chezwick_Mac

    He moved to the center after the nomination…and once elected, veered sharply back to the left. Now, he's trying to save his tattered presidency. If re-elected, he will once again return to his radical roots.

  • Wesley69

    His leftist policies earned Obama the shellacking of 2010. Obama now presents himself as have learned his lessons. But has he?

    The big key is regulation. Has the EPA reversed course on its plan to regulate greenhouse gases? This is an economy and job killer. The answer is no.

    Is the FCC rescinding its regulations(net neutrality) dealing with the Internet? No.

    Are the oil drilling operations in the Gulf returned to near normal? No, and there are tougher regulations of offshore drilling, but also onshore drilling imposed by Salazar's Interior Department. Watch those energy prices, people. In the President's own words, they will skyrocket.

    While he gave in on the renewal of the Bush tax rates, Obama got the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the START Treaty in return. Both are Liberal policy positions.

    Has he replaced a Far Leftist (Socialist) Elizabeth Warren who is setting up the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? No and wait until this gets running in July – regulations galore.

    Talk is cheap, but it seems to be the coin of the realm in this administration. Obama talks a good game, but has anything changed in the Executive Agencies and Departments? No, and nor will it. Every now and then, Obama will throw a bone to the opposition and the Leftist media will declare this is evidence of his move to the center. Such action, unfortunately, will fool many citizens, citizens who were fooled the first time.

    One last point to those people – Has Obama ordered the release of any documents dealing with his birth or schooling? Once again, no. We are expected to take his move to the center on blind faith? Release all these documents and maybe I’ll start to believe.

  • Wesley69

    His leftist policies earned Obama the shellacking of 2010. Obama now presents himself as have learned his lessons. But has he?

    The big key is regulation. Has the EPA reversed course on its plan to regulate greenhouse gases? This is an economy and job killer. The answer is no.

    Is the FCC rescinding its regulations(net neutrality) dealing with the Internet? No.

    Are the oil drilling operations in the Gulf returned to near normal? No, and there are tougher regulations of offshore drilling, but also onshore drilling imposed by Salazar's Interior Department. Watch those energy prices, people. In the President's own words, they will skyrocket.

    While he gave in on the renewal of the Bush tax rates, Obama got the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the START Treaty in return. Both are Liberal policy positions.

    Has he replaced a Far Leftist Elizabeth Warren who is setting up the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? No and wait until this gets running in July – regulations galore.

    Talk is cheap, but it seems to be the coin of the realm in this administration. Obama talks a good game, but has anything changed in the Executive Agencies and Departments? No, and nor will it. Every now and then, Obama will throw a bone to the opposition and the Leftist media will declare this is evidence of his move to the center. Such action, unfortunately, will fool many citizens, citizens who were fooled the first time.

    One last point to those people – Has Obama ordered the release of any documents dealing with his birth or schooling? Once again, no. We are expected to take his move to the center on blind faith? Release all these documents and maybe I’ll start to believe.

  • BLJ

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck…….

    This guy is a committed Marxist. He is going to play the same fools who voted for him in 2008. Hopefully enough of them will have the sense to see through this. I have my doubts.