December 14, 2008

Not a Centrist

Justin Katz

Charles Krauthammer argues persuasively that Obama's apparent centrism goes only so deep as pragmatism requires:

Take the foreign policy team: Hillary Clinton, James Jones, and Bush holdover Robert Gates. As centrist as you can get. But these choices were far less ideological than practical. Obama has no intention of being a foreign-policy president. Unlike, say, Nixon or Reagan, he does not have aspirations abroad. He simply wants quiet on his Eastern and Western fronts so that he can proceed with what he really cares about — his domestic agenda.

There's a similar explanation for his senior economic team, the brilliant trio of Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, and Paul Volcker: centrist, experienced, and mainstream. But their principal task is to stabilize the financial system, a highly pragmatic task in which Obama has no particular ideological stake. ...

Obama was quite serious when he said he was going to change the world. And now he has a national crisis, a personal mandate, a pliant Congress, a desperate public — and, at his disposal, the greatest pot of money in galactic history. (I include here the extrasolar planets.)

It begins with a near $1 trillion stimulus package. This is where Obama will show himself ideologically. It is his one great opportunity to plant the seeds for everything he cares about: a new green economy, universal health care, a labor resurgence, government as benevolent private-sector "partner." It is the community organizer's ultimate dream.

Obama's objective, in other words, isn't to tilt the deck to the left; it's to turn the entire ship in that direction. Ships turn slowly, no doubt, but they go down quickly when ideology obscures real hazards in the water.

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So Obama's centrist Cabinet is the evidence of his radical plans? You just can't bring yourself to concede a single point to Obama, can you? Why not just congratulate Obama for what at this point appears to be an eminently qualified and centrist Cabinet? And why not concede that it is not just whacko leftists who are calling for a large stimulus plan?

Conservatives will be wandering in the wilderness for a long time indeed.

Posted by: Pragmatist at December 14, 2008 5:45 PM

"Pragmatist"-you're asking someone to concede ground when you defend a turd like Cicilline?What a joke!I hope Obama fails at every turn and gets an unfriendly Congress in 2 years.His boy Emanuel hopefully will be derailed by the Blagojevich affair.Maybe Axelrod also.Watch Emanuel run to Israel to hide out(a la Scheinbein the murderer)if he's indicted. He's a dual national after all.That will make for a nice kettle of fish for Obama.
Obama himself is probably not dirtied up in this situation,but he'll be starting from behind the line of scrimmage.This'll be worse than Jimmy Carter

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 14, 2008 6:02 PM

He who angers you controls you, and you seem to be angry at everyone who doesn't walk in lock step with your ideas - quite a few people, like most of the electorate.

Relax and let a little water run under the bridge before you pronounce judgment.

Personally, I never thought that Obama was a Leftist, his cabinet selections have not surprised me. I really dislike Emmanuel's politics, but I temper that with faith that Barack's heart is in the proper place and that his intelligence will serve him well.


Posted by: OldTimeLefty at December 14, 2008 7:56 PM

"His boy Emanuel hopefully will be derailed by the Blagojevich affair."

Emanuel may skip, Joe, but it looks like he renounced his Israeli citizenship a while ago. In any case, doesn't the US have an extradition treaty with Israel?

Intriguingly, the NYTimes reported yesterday:

"According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Blagojevich talked about approaching an unnamed “president-elect adviser” to ask for help raising “10, 15 million” for the governor to start a nonprofit organization."

This may explain why he's been dodging the press. Congressman from Illinois AND President-Elect Obama's Chief of Staff. Emanuel fits the bill of "unnamed president-elect adviser" very well.

Posted by: Monique at December 14, 2008 9:10 PM

The US can extradite US citizens who don't also have Israeli citizenship from Israel.I am unaware if Emanuel renounced Israeli citizenship-I'll take your word for it.Check out Sheinbein on google-he was a murderer who had never been in Israel,yet their Supreme Court found he was a citizen and he stood trial there and is in prison there.He should've been tried there.
OTL-you think I'm angry?I'm actually having a lot of fun with this stuff.I wonder what Obama will do when he finds out the subprime disaster was only the beginning?They'll have to dig up cemeteries to rob graves of gold jewelry to pay for it all.(That may be an exaggeration)

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 14, 2008 9:57 PM

Ships turn slowly, no doubt, but they go down quickly when ideology obscures real hazards in the water.

Sage words written by one who stays in the shallow end of the pool. We all need to be on alert for those Shoals of Socialism or the Mudflats of Marxism as we navigate the treacherous waters of the modern world. Be on a lookout for pirates too.

Posted by: Phil at December 15, 2008 6:02 AM

Can Bush/Cheney, with its wide open borders, meglomaniacal thirst for world domination, police state domestic measures and trillions in corporate giveaways be considered anything but left-wing-dare I say "progresssive"?
As for George Jefferson, I make one prediction.
By the end of his one term, he will do what FDR did (but which you NEVER hear about from the leftist media-sort of like the millions of kids molested by AFT/NEA members):devalue the dollar by 40%.

Posted by: Mike at December 15, 2008 9:46 AM

OTL thinks either you don't have an argument, or when you do, you're angry. He doesn't think Obama is a leftist, but he doesn't think Pelosi is either. But he still has yet to answer, who he does think is a leftist.

Posted by: bobc at December 15, 2008 12:42 PM

bobc-MAYBE Raul Castro might make OTL's list of legit leftists-as long as he hasn't had any behavior which might be revealed in a self-criticism session(HUMOR ALERT)

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 15, 2008 5:28 PM

bobc-MAYBE Raul Castro might make OTL's list of legit leftists-as long as he hasn't had any behavior which might be revealed in a self-criticism session(HUMOR ALERT)

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 15, 2008 5:28 PM

I can't think of anyone in the congress who is a Leftist. I have declared a few times that I consider Leftist diversity represented by Emma Goldman, Ferdinando Nicola Sacco,Bartolomeo Vanzetti, George Bernard Shaw, George Orwell, Michael Harrington, Willie Brandt, Eugene Debs. Pelosi and Obama, in my view, are centrists whose contribution is perhaps to move the center to the Left, a necessary adjustment after Reagan moved it to the Right.

I have never heard Pelosi or Obama or any politician speak directly of aiding the poor. Hell, they never even mention the poor, a class which does not exist in their/our political consciousness. When they start addressing the problems of the poor I'll consider that they may be Leftists. Until then they are Centrists and you and joe and the people who write for this blog are Rightists.

I say joe, whom somehow I like - there's no accounting for taste - is angry when he curses and calls someone a turd. It's a word used in anger to incite anger, that's why I say he's angry. I bet joe takes anger management classes, or at least medications to keep him on keel, but I don't really know. So again, somehow I like joe, he yells a lot, but is fair and true to his beliefs, beliefs which I do not share.
Leftily Yours,

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at December 15, 2008 5:29 PM

Just read joe's remarks re: Raoul Castro, please add him to my list. Sorry for the oversight.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at December 15, 2008 5:32 PM

OTL-I hate to disappoint you,but I don't take anger management classes,and certainly no meds-I do take meds for diabetes and coronary artery disease and some complications thereof,but I don't lose my temper.Writing stuff is one thing.I don't have road rage and don't get into s*** on general principle.I spent enough years on the street dealing with real problems to learn how to control my responses.If someone threatens my life or the safety of anyone in my family,I know what to do.I don't even have to think about it.
But,such things aside I use terms like "turd' for David Cicilline because it's the type of language which was common in the military and law enforcement where I spent most of my adult life after the age of 18.
I have never been the subject of a restraining order nor a police visit to my home for some asinine thing like domestic violence.I've been happily married for 38 years as of this week.
Micael Harrington!"The Other America".I read it a long time ago.Is he still alive?Not a bad guy for a leftist.Certainly not a limousine liberal like Sheldon Whitehouse.
I'd rather people thought I was engaged enough to be angry about something than to be viewed as someone who watches "Dancing With the Stars"and could give a s*** about what happens there.
And another thing,OTL-I like debating with you and I don't think I've ever called you rotten names.If you want to get me started just mention Dean Esserman.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 15, 2008 6:00 PM

Likewise re: the debating. Unfortunately, Michael Harrington has passed on. His work is being carried on by Barbara Ehrenreich, another Lefty.

Your turn. Why do you say Pelosi and Obama are Leftists?

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at December 15, 2008 7:38 PM

OTL-my favorite RI lefty?Henry Shelton-he's no phony and I don't think he lives much better than the people he speaks for.He should get a better wig,though.
I don't think you can find a comment of mine where I dump on the poor.My problem is with predatory criminals and crooked politicos acting like they're some kind of saviors.And social engineers who want to tell me how to live my life.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 15, 2008 10:36 PM

Your list of Leftist seems somewhat antiquated. Is there anyone contemporary or at least alive (other than Joe’s addition of Castro) that you consider a leftist? As to why I consider Pelosi and Obama leftists, it’s really quite simple. It’s based on a linear horizontal line. You line up all the members of congress based on their beliefs and voting records, those that fall to the extreme left are leftist. It seems that your line runs horizontally from the right but then turns ninety degrees at what should be the center and you pile these folks vertically on the center. It doesn’t happen that way. One can be a moderate; one can only be a centrist if one falls in the center of the line. Having said that, I may be a rightist in Rhode Island, but in Oklahoma I might be considered a centrist.

Posted by: bobc at December 17, 2008 11:14 AM
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