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Today's Beacon editorial lists the accomplishments of the current Congress. It's a fair and balanced piece which mentions the new health care law, financial reform, regulating the tobacco industry, updating food safety oversight, reforming student loans, the stimulus, auto-industry bailout loans,...and in the past few weeks.....the Start Treaty, repealing DADT, and funding 9-11 responders health care.
All worthwhile efforts, to be sure.
The editorial goes on to mention this sometimes overlooked fact.....
The twist is, heated rhetoric and election results aside, most of these necessary achievements lean to the center, even the health-care bill as it builds on the current system.
Over the last two years it has been maddening to listen to hyperbolic assertions by many on the conservative side, assertions which claim that Barack Obama has been nothing but a radical, leftist-commie-Kenyan-Muslim intent on destroying America.
The reality, as the Beacon points out, is that Obama has governed from day one from the center. The man is simply not an ideologue....he truly is a pragmatist.
Consider the distinctions in presidents. Republican presidents NEVER bash their political base. Never. Obama, on the other hand, has repeatedly bashed his political base....mocking them as the "professional left" on several occasions.
When Obama critics from the left pointed out that, in many ways, Obama has followed in the footsteps of George W. Bush....Robert Gibbs responded with.....
"I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested," Gibbs said. "I mean, it's crazy."
The press secretary dismissed the "professional left" in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality."
Can you imagine a GOP president's press secretary saying anything similar to the conservative base? Picture a GOP president standing up to the truly wild-eyed, far right voters.....the ones who actually want to repeal several Constitutional amendments, for example....telling those conservative base voters that they "ought to be drug tested".....telling them that they won't be satisfied until all minorities are demoted to second class status and we're at war with the entire world. It would never happen.
So, Obama is a pragmatic centrist leader willing to mock and bash his own progressive base. So be it.
I have always considered political centrism to be a misnomer. What political policies would a centrist voter believe in? What would be a centrist position on torture, for example. Abortion? How about civil rights?
Did Abraham Lincoln espouse a centrist position on slavery? How about FDR......when he welcomed the hate of the privileged financial classes of his day as he built the New Deal, was that a display of centrism?
Since his inauguration, Barack Obama has been faced with very high unemployment numbers. Yet, his centrist leadership ways, apparently, are impotent in dealing with those high numbers. Centrism....which is really status quo-ism, the creed of the Village....led Obama to water down the 2009 stimulus legislation, lessening the bill's job creation effects. Where the non-centrist, FDR, launched direct government jobs programs.....something for which Robert Gibbs may have called him "crazy" and in need of "drug testing"...Obama launched a centrist, "please everybody" stimulus package, which, two years later, leaves us with 10% unemployment numbers.
That's what centrism will get you.
On January 5th, our political discourse will return to it's regularly scheduled bullsh*t. Obama will continue to bash his base and, I predict, his own party's elected officials, as he triangulates with Republicans to continue his pragmatic centrist ways. As I said before....so be it.
But "the audacity of hope"......"bold change we can believe in"? Hardly.
Asked what would be the difference with Obama and a Republican House as compared to Bill Clinton and a GOP Congress in 1994, Obama responded.....
‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’
Yep. A pragmatic, cake-and-eat-it-too, centrist incremententalist....who, like Clinton, will triangulate with Republicans to move the country, ever so slightly, to the right.