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PresBO as Centrist? Say it ain’t so! April 26, 2011

Posted by vsap in 2008 Presidential Election, Blogroll, US Politics.
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David Gerwitz, on ZDNet Government (April 25, 2011), ostensibly speaking for/to “techies”, makes some sobering observations about PresBO:

“Mr. Obama has had a decidedly uninspiring presidency, from a health care reform victory where the cure is probably worse than the disease, to a new third war, to a jobs situation still in the crapper, to issues of privacy, security, and TSA indignities.

“Only history will be able to tell whether President Obama’s moves after the 2009 financial crisis turned things around that would have otherwise led to another Great Depression. But we all have experienced the Great Recession and Obama-the-President is far more universally disappointing than Obama-the-Campaigner.”

Now, I can’t pretend to know if “techies”, young and old, are pre-disposed to supporting the President or not, but it seems odd to read these words from this corner of the known universe. Mr. Gerwitz concludes:

“Barack Obama’s a tough read. It’s honestly hard to tell whether he’s been good at his job or horrific. That’s his fault. Because while it’s very difficult to tangibly determine whether we’d have been better off with Mr. McCain than Mr. Obama these last few years, it’s absolutely clear that Barack Obama has dropped the ball when it comes to inspiring the world.

“And that, more than anything else, may well be Barack Obama’s most serious strategic mistake.”

Mr. Gerwitz’s indictment is not a whispered sentiment any longer. It’s out there. Conservatives and most Republicans have said and written these sorts of things long before a reasonable assessment could be made of this President. The same was true in the early Reagan presidency: liberals vilified him from the moment he took the oath of office. So, let’s cast off those we know oppose this President and his policies in favor of those voices which first fell in love with “Obama-the-Campaigner” and fell out of love with “Obama-as-President”.

Michael Gerson wrote in The Washington Post on April 11, 2011:

“Intentional or not, it sizzled with symbolism that President Obama announced his reelection campaign the same day his administration threw in the towel on the closing of Guantanamo Bay. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others would be tried by a military tribunal at the prison Obama once described as a violation of “core constitutional values.” A central pledge of one campaign was abandoned to kick off the next.

“This reversal was soon followed by a budget agreement that Obama described as the “largest annual spending cut in history” — leaving his progressive base wounded and abandoned on the budget battlefield. The man that liberals elected to complete the work of Lyndon Johnson had suddenly adopted the idiom of Ronald Reagan.”

PresBO, desperate for a second term, has resorted to do anything strategy to win. But, it seems the only one he is fooling is himself.

Mr. Gerson continues:

“The overall strategy of projecting a centrist pragmatism is probably a good one. Though Obama has seen some recent erosion in support among African Americans and Hispanics, his approval among liberals is steady in the 70s. At a comparable point in his presidency, Bill Clinton’s liberal support was in the mid-60s. Even as the professional left registers feeble protests to Obama’s ideological evolution, nothing seems to shake the faith of progressive voters. They can be safely taken for granted.

“In contrast, Obama’s approval among independents has dropped 23 points since he took office. Democrats lost this group by a 56-to-37-point margin in November. There is no reelection without reversing this trend.”

Independents, in love with “Obama-the-Campaigner” have fallen out fo love with “Obama-the-President”.

Another April 11 analysis was published by Clay Waters:

“Obama the centrist? That’s the takeaway from New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny’s Sunday “news analysis,” “President Adopts a Measured Course to Recapture the Middle.” The original online headline was even more misleading: “President Obama Adopts Centrist Approach.”
Actually, Zeleny has considered Obama centrist, or at least a “pragmatist,” from his first year in office, well before the 2010 election. Here’s Zeleny on Obama the pragmatist in December 2009: “He delivered a mix of realism and idealism….he continued a pattern evident throughout his public career of favoring pragmatism over absolutes.”
That’s just weird, even for The New York Times. Michael Barone, after the President’s speech on April 12, wrote this for The Washington Examiner:

“Not just weak but pitiful,” “devoid of detail,” “a waste of breath.” Those were among the reactions of The Atlantic’s Clive Crook to Obama’s speech this afternoon. Crook is no Republican partisan; he calls House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan “no good.” But he is dismayed that “the administration still lacks a rival plan,” and that, as he puts it in his penultimate sentence, “the speech was more notable for its militant—though ineffectual—hostility to Republican proposals than for any fresh thinking of its own.”

What’s particularly pitiful here is that Barack Obama, with the full resources of the Office of Management and the Budget (a first-rate public bureaucracy) available to him, was able to do no better than this. But then I gather he didn’t get all the asbestos out of the John P. Altgeld housing project in Chicago either.”

Daniel Strauss, from The Hill, on February 5, 2011, shows that even the President’s opposition in the 2008 election is coming around:

“The president has become more centrist, which makes him easier to work with, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday.

“Speaking with Bloomberg Television a day after a private meeting with President Obama, McCain said he could picture working with Obama on several issues going forward.

“I think there’s a number of issues we could work on together, and I think it’s pretty clear that the president has really pivoted to a much more centrist position, which I think makes it much more for us easier to work with him,” McCain said.”

Oh boy! So much to look forward to now!

As early as April 28,2010, J. Bradford DeLong opined for The Economist:

“On healthcare reform, Obama’s proudest moment, his achievement is…drum roll…a scheme that almost precisely mimics the reform that Mitt Romney, a Republican who sought the presidency in 2008, brought to the state of Massachusetts. The reform’s centerpiece is a requirement imposed by the government that people choose responsibly and provide themselves with insurance – albeit with the government willing to subsidize the poor and strengthen the bargaining power of the weak.

“In all of these cases, Obama is ruling, or trying to rule, by taking positions that are at the technocratic good-government center, and then taking two steps to the right – sacrificing some important policy goals – in the hope of attracting Republican votes and thereby demonstrating his commitment to bipartisanship. On all of these policies – anti-recession, banking, fiscal, environmental, anti-discrimination, rule of law, healthcare – you could close your eyes and convince yourself that, at least as far as the substance is concerned, Obama is in fact a moderate Republican named George H.W. Bush, Mitt Romney, John McCain, or Colin Powell.

“Now, don’t get me wrong. My complaints about Obama are not that he is too bipartisan or too centrist. I am at bottom a weak-tea Dewey-Eisenhower-Rockefeller social democrat – that is, with a small “s” and a small “d.” My complaints are that he is not technocratic enough, that he is pursuing the chimera of “bipartisanship” too far, and that, as a result, many of his policies will not work well, or at all.”

And, if the election of 2010 is any indication, it hasn’t worked at all…and it is getting worse for PresBO as time marches on. yet, even before this, on January 22, 2010, Jon Meachem, in Newsweek opined:

“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.
“…He has grandly failed so far in doing what presidents must do, which is to lead the nation emotionally as well as rationally. It would be great if politics were fact-based, but it is not, and it is surely not nuance-based. What works in a classroom or a think tank does not work on Capitol Hill or in the White House. Obama sometimes seems to be running the Brookings Institution, not the country.
“Like all of us, Obama has the vices of his virtues. He is cool and steady, but can seem cold and remote. He is thoughtful and thorough, but can appear eggheady and out of it. He appeals to the intellect, but often fails to make the visceral case for something. The question now is whether his presidency has simply hit one of those unavoidable grim moments when nothing seems to go right (such moments come to every White House) or whether a tactical shift could improve his chances of accomplishing more of what he wants to do.”
In short, it would appear he is unfit for the center, even as the arguments mount in favor of that change.
Then there’s this blog post from Jared William (May 29, 2010) regarding a discussion he was having with his friend Tim about Obama education policy:
“When Obama was just about to overtake Clinton in terms of national favor, we had a debate that covered many things, but my primary argument was that people, when looking – actually looking – at Obama’s policies, would see him for what he is – a middling, almost cowardly centrist who would get little done and had no truly progressive ideas.”
Even an “everyman” blogger could see through the veneer of “Obama-the-Campaigner” as it flaked and peeled to reveal “Obama-the-President”.
While belittling the liberal media is a hobby of mine, the truth is always stranger than fiction, as pointed out by Barry Secrest on February 7, 2011:
“Time’s Mark Halperin has hailed Obama as “magnetic,” “distinguished,” and “inspiring” – )n one story. ABC’s Christiane Amanpour saw “Reaganesque” optimism and “Kennedyesque” encouragement – all in one speech. Howard Fineman, the former Newsweek columnist who now writes for the Huffington Post, said conductor Obama was now leading a “love train” through D.C.”
Wow! There’s objectivity you want from your news coverage! All of this to lead you to believe PresBO is alright. He is not a European-style socialist soft on jihad and anti-business. I’m still looking for evidence that those assertions are wrong. But, this isn’t about me. it’s about whether or not the president can fool enough people into believing he is centrist so achieve re-election.
So, let’s conclude with Dana Millbank, from The Everett (WA) Post, April 14, 2011, from a opine piece entitled “Obama claims his centrist birthright”:
“Though he occasionally struggled against his congenital reasonableness during his first two years in office, Obama blessing the debt commission’s bipartisan product of spending cuts and tax increases confirms him as a born moderate.”His embrace of the compromise debt proposal — and of the effort by the Gang of Six senators to put something like it into legislation — will be considered apostasy by true believers on both sides. But it dramatically increases the likelihood that Washington will solve its debt problem — and it strongly allies Obama with the independent voters who will determine the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.

Obama’s embrace of Bowles-Simpson will open a new rift with his supporters on the left, including the Campaign for America’s Future, which has already begun an e-mail campaign, and the columnist Paul Krugman, who accuses Obama of defining “the center as being somewhere between the right and the far right.””White House officials were not deterred by the critique. “We’re accustomed to it,” one said. “This is about economic realities, not politics.”

House Democrats further strengthened Obama’s position by offering a budget proposal that relies more on tax increases. That leaves Obama alone in the political center — in a perfect place to triangulate. For a born moderate, there is no cozier place to call home.”

Egad!
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Comments»

1. Newsbusters: Ex-Newsweek Editor Howard Fineman: GOP Plan Says ‘Screw You’ to Younger Voters | Katy Pundit - April 26, 2011

[…] posts on FinemanREAGAN DEMOCRATS: 'TEA BAGGERS' OR MSNBC VIEWERS? :The World As …PresBO as Centrist? Say it ain't so! « Poet at the edge/**/ Share and Enjoy: Wikio Wikio Related Posts:April 24, 2011 — Newsbusters: Howard Fineman: […]

2. John1002 - April 29, 2011

Very nice site!

3. toasty redhead - May 14, 2011

Right on!

4. toasty redhead - May 14, 2011

Thank you for a great post.


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