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Vote Moderate Republican: Vote Obama

Glenn Greenwald argues in the pages of the Guardian:  “Vote Obama – if you want a centrist Republican for US president.”

In fairness to the much-maligned GOP field, they face a formidable hurdle: how to credibly attack Obama when he has adopted so many of their party’s defining beliefs. Depicting the other party’s president as a radical menace is one of the chief requirements for a candidate seeking to convince his party to crown him as the chosen challenger. Because Obama has governed as a centrist Republican, these GOP candidates are able to attack him as a leftist radical only by moving so far to the right in their rhetoric and policy prescriptions that they fall over the cliff of mainstream acceptability, or even basic sanity.

I know many regular commenters here at OTB will scoff at such assertions. After all, many of them frequently assert that Obama is a radical who, if given four more years, will utterly transform American into something none of us will recognize.  However, the truth of the matter is, if one actually looks at what Obama has done in office, it is really very difficult to reach the conclusion that he is especially liberal  in the American sense of the word (let alone a radical, a socialist!, or whatever other term one wants to deploy).

Here’s the challenge:  what policy has Obama pursued that could not have been pursued, at least until very recently, by a Republican?  And once we get beyond  the PPACA (and even that is a lousy example for reasons discussed below)  what actual policy has Obama pursued that would prove his alleged extreme liberalism?  And even if a handful of examples can be conjured, what does the preponderance of the evidence actually demonstrate?

Off the top of my head, the following policy areas come to mind (and note, I am not making value judgments about whether the policies are good  but whether they are uniquely “liberal”):

The Major Initiatives

PPACA (aka “ObamaCare”):  Health Care reform has been Obama’s signature legislative achievement.  Regardless of anything else, we know that in the 1990s this approach (keeping insurance private and the creation of an individual mandate) was touted as the “conservative” alternative to “socialized medicine.”  As we well know, this was the system put in place in Massachusetts during Romney’s tenure as governor (and, indeed, is his signature legislative achievement) and was the system favored by the conservative Heritage Foundation during the Clinton administration.  And, as Doug Mataconis has pointed out over the last couple of days, Newt Gingrich praised such systems within the last couple of years (see here and here).  Note:  the truly liberal preference was a single-payer system (or, the semi-liberal preference was a public insurance option).

Cap and Trade:  This, of course, has not passed. However, this used to be a Republican idea.  The goal was to create a market for carbon and let the magic of that market fix the pollution problem by incentivizing polluters to reduce emissions via the profit motive (i.e., selling off part of their allotment of allowed carbon) instead of just imposing caps (the more traditionally liberal solution).

On both of the above, see my post from a while back:  Obama: Moderate 90s Republican?

Stimulus:  While it is true that the fact that Democrats had huge majorities in both chambers in 2009 meant that the stimulus package passed was going to be laden with Things Democrats Like, the bottom line is that a Republican president would have also signed a stimulus bill, so the notion that this was some uniquely “liberal” or “socialist” move is problematic.

TARP/Bailouts:  This started under Bush and would have been continued under McCain.

Deficits and Debt.  I know a lot of people assert that Obama came to office and exploded the deficit.  However:

24editorial_graph2-popup.gif

Source:  NYT.

Foreign Policy:  While I know it is fashionable in certain conservative circles to assert that the president’s foreign policy is just to go around and apologize for the US, the truth is that US foreign policy under the Obama administration is hardly all that different from that of the second Bush administration and apart from bomb, bomb, bombing Iran, I defy anyone tell me how a McCain foreign policy would have been especially different (more aggressive in Libya, perhaps?).

Taxes

While Obama has argued for the need to increase taxes, he has only done so by targeting upper income levels (either in terms of increased the top marginal rate to the pre-Bush levels, or via a millionaire surtax in the latest go ’round over the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits)—hardly radical suggestions.  All of that, by the way, has been rhetoric to date.  The reality has been tax cuts:  he signed into law the extension of the Bush era income tax rates and he pushed for, and saw passed, the payroll tax “holiday.”

Social Issues

It is true that Obama is pro-choice (although the degree to which this has been of any serious policy relevance of late is questionable at best), so that marginally puts him in the Democratic/”liberal” camp (although plenty of moderate Republicans are pro-choice as well).  Further, he is pro-gay marriage (although, again, this is a matter that is shifting in many Republican circles as well).  I expect that “don’t ask, don’t tell” would not have been aggressively repealed by a Republican president, but again, even that issue is one of salience these days only to portions of the hard right.

I will allow that Obama is more likely to appoint members of the judiciary that are more liberal on these issues but again, the degree to which they substantially different from those a moderate Republican might appoint is questionable.

Civil Rights

While Obama did end certain torture techniques, his record in this area is hardly all that different from the Bush administration.  Guantanamo is still open, Americans on foreign soil are considered legitimate targets for assassination without trial, and now, with the signing of the NDAA, American citizens arrested in the US can face either indefinite detention or military tribunals.  All of this is “liberal” how?

Conclusions

Understanding that words like “conservative,” “moderate,” and “liberal” can shift in meaning over time, I would still submit that it is quite difficult, from an empirical and dispassionate point of view, to call Barack Obama anything other than a moderate (and one whose policies would have been welcome, in large measure, within the Republican Party in the 1990s, if not more recently than that).

One can call President Obama “extremely liberal” or even a “”socialist” but the facts run counter to such claims (unless, of course one wishes to utterly redefine the words).

The bottom line here is that a lot of voters really pay attention only to party label, and not to actually policies.  To wit:  if Obama signs the PPACA, it must be socialism, but if Bush signs Medicare Part D, it is just “moderate” social policy.  That is:  too many of us react too much to the party symbols and not enough to the policy views, when making decisions (and forming opinions of said policy initiatives).

What does all of this mean?  Well, it depends on who you are.  If you truly are liberal, you are likely quite disappointed.  If you are a disaffected Republican, it explains why supporting/tolerating Obama hasn’t been that hard (e.g., Andrew Sullivan, David Frum, Bruce Bartlett, etc.).  It also means that if you are one who has made constant accusations of extreme liberalism, socialism, etc., that you are simply wrong.  And for the GOP it has meant a continued shift rightward by their candidate pool (and in a way that has diminished, not increased, their electoral chances in 2012).

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. CB says:

    run for the hills everybody, theres a shitstorm headed this way

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  2. Rob in CT says:

    Oh you’ve gone and done it now, Steven. ;)

    If you truly are liberal, you are likely quite disappointed.

    Yes, though that disappointment should probably be directly in part to Obama, in part to his opponents and in part to frustration at The Way Things Are (today). There has, of course, been much back & forth between various liberals & moderates about whether liberal disappointment is reasonable or overblown. I’m in the “mostly reasonable” camp myself, with a side helping of “overblown in some cases.”

    I do have a quibble: I thought Obama was officially still against (personally, at least) gay marriage. I was under the impression he’d been trying to thread the needle of believing in man-woman marriage himself but refusing to fight tooth and nail against the tide.

    The real hardcore Rightwing argument was made recently here at OTB by Bithead: everything was a-ok until the country took a leftwing detour in the 1930s-1960s, and that everthing will be screwed up until we course-correct (implicit in this, of course, is the belief that the “Reagan Revolution” was not a sufficient correction). Thus, though Obama looks to us like a moderate, to Bit he’s yet another post-New Deal POTUS who doesn’t want to undo the New Deal and is therefore an awful socialist. Or something like that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  3. JohnMcC says:

    Everything you say is true. The problem with the post is that ‘moderate Republican’ is an oxymoron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  4. David says:

    I need some popcorn for watching this thread. You are dead on in your analysis. Obama is a centrist. Repeal I’d DADT might be slightly left of center, as is not defending DOMA. Now let the show begin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  5. Hey Norm says:

    Also…the stimulus was comprised of a great deal of tax cuts…far more than liberals would have liked.
    The collective heads of several regular commenters must be exploding right now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  6. David says:

    Repea@David: Repeal of not repeal I’d… Sigh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Rob in CT says:

    Something I think Glenn really nails is the idea that if you absolutely must demonize your opponent and your opponent is demonstrably not a demon*, then you must lie.

    * – if you firmly believe that he is for his Afpak and/or War on Terror policies, I’m not going to argue, but that’s mostly an argument from the left (exception: Ron Paul). That’s not the argument that the GOP candidates (again, the exception is Paul) are making, because Party dogma at this time is for very… let’s say “liberal” … application of force abroad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. mattb says:

    @CB:
    Only if this makes it into the conservative blog-roll.

    Otherwise, *shaking my magic eight-ball* we’ll probably just see the following:

    — Head nodding on most if not all of SJT’s points by the regular liberal/independent (and the two intellectually honest conservative) commentators.
    — Complaints by a few people about how OTB used to be a conservative blog.
    — Jan disproving all of Stephen’s points with links to “well thought out” editorials by Powerline/Pajamas Media/Red State third string writers and a heart-felt anecdote or two about how she thought the same thing until her conversion to conservatism.
    — Angry prose from Erik_F and Manning about how America is on the verge of collapse and/or a realz-conservative uprising.
    — Tzar Nicholas will wax about how far both parties have fallen and how much none of this matters because of how dumb Americans are.
    — SD will wax about how far bot parties have fallen and how much none of this matters because of all the brown/yellow/red people.
    — and finally G.A. will delight us with some great dada-ist/wesley willis style stream-of-consciousness retorting.

    did I miss anyone?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  9. Rob in CT says:

    @Hey Norm:

    No, because Steven Taylor has looooong since been labeled a RINO by those folks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    Obama is far to the right of Eisenhower, to the right of Nixon and Ford.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  11. mattb says:

    While Obama did end certain torture techniques, his record in this area is hardly all that different from the Bush administration. Guantanamo is still open

    To be fair to our conservative friends, on the Guantanamo thing, Obama did attempt to close the camp and was undermined by his own party. So on that matter, I think its fair to list him as a “liberal.”

    As far as the rest, and the liberal/progressive disappointment in Obama, it’s spot on. From the beginning he was a slightly left of center democrat who both sides saw as being far more left than he ever was. Of course candidate Obama’s rhetoric did more than a little to encourage this view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  12. David M says:

    I agree with the post, and wish I had some popcorn for the rebuttals. The most frustrating part of the Obama presidency so far is seeing moderate policies described as radically socialist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  13. Hey Norm says:

    Obama is the most conservative President since Bush41…I’ve made that point here dozens of times.
    Romney will win the nomination and then pivot to the center, only to find Obama standing there already. The only differentiation he’ll be able to make is throwing people with pre-existing conditions off their insurance by repealing the PPACA, abolishing Medicare per Paul Ryan, and giving the wealthiest amongst us with big fat tax cuts.
    Meep-Meep

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  14. Boyd says:

    Reserving the right to disagree on other points later, I’ll limit my current disagreement with Steven’s points to his glib dismissal of judicial appointments, more specifically Supreme Court appointments. Without passing any type of value judgment on the votes of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, it’s pretty clear that no Republican would come within about a million lightyears of nominating either one of them. To say that “the degree to which they [are] substantially different from those a moderate Republican might appoint is questionable” boggles the mind and, in my view, defies reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  15. @Boyd: I am not sure how the following is “glib dismissal”:

    I will allow that Obama is more likely to appoint members of the judiciary that are more liberal on these issues but again, the degree to which they substantially different from those a moderate Republican might appoint is questionable.

    I qualified with “moderate Republican” and would argue that neither Kagan nor Sotomayor are especially more liberal (and may be less so) than was Souter. Is Kennedy really an uber-conservative? Would a moderate Republican appoint an Alito? Maybe, maybe not. Further, it is often quite difficult to know exactly how judges will behave once on the bench. For the matter, there is hardly “a million lightyears ” of ideological space between the most conservative member of SCOTUS and its most liberal.

    As such, I am not seeing the case for reality denial.

    What is the evidence, by the way, that either Kagan or Sotomayor are especially liberal?

    Still, I will allow (and did) that Obama has not and will not appoint hard right conservatives, but again: I am not making the case that he is a hardcore conservative, just that he is a moderate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  16. David says:

    SCOTUS appointments have shifted to the right since the 80s. Republican appointees have moved further right and Democratic ones have moved closer to the center.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I can’t claim to have seen every vote by these two Justices, but every vote I’ve seen from them has supported the “liberal party line.” Can you think of a case where they’ve taken a particularly illiberal position? Or broke from the liberal bloc on the court?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  18. PJ says:

    @Hey Norm:

    Romney will win the nomination and then pivot to the center, only to find Obama standing there already.

    If Romney pivots to the center, then he will lose, because a big share of republicans will abandon him and then either go for a third party candidate or just stay at home.
    Romney, like McCain, will have to secure the GOP base.
    It’s a lose-lose situation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Rob in CT says:

    I think it’s a bit early to decide on Kagan & Sotomayor. We’re just going to have to wait and see.

    One could stipulate for the sake of discussion that they are both run-of-the-mill liberals (and, thus, bolster the argument that Obama is a liberal). I don’t really see how that in any way advances the “he’s a radical!” claim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  20. Boyd says:

    @David: Just because you say it doesn’t make it true. Ginsberg and Souter both refute your claim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  21. Boyd says:

    @Rob in CT: But they do tend to refute Steven’s claim that President Obama is (just like) a moderate Republican.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  22. DRS says:

    The best argument that Obama is really a moderate Republican is the fact that there are no moderate Republicans running for the Republican nomination. (Romney is a mod-Rep but is twisting himself into pretzels trying to deny it.) Huntsman might be the closest and he’s getting no traction at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. @Boyd:

    But they do tend to refute Steven’s claim that President Obama is (just like) a moderate Republican.

    Well, only if the only standard for judging liberal/moderate/conservative are SCOTUS appointments.

    Back to Kagan and Sotomayor: just because they vote in the more “liberal” bloc does not mean that they represent an especially liberal (versus moderate) view. The judgment has to be about the legal reasoning and such, not just the votes.

    Kennedy is less conservative than Scalia, for example, even when they vote together.

    Regardless, to be a legitimate counter to my argument you have to demonstrate that Kagan and Sotomayor are truly representative of a non-moderate type of appointment.

    And even if they are especially liberal, you still have to deal with the rest of the post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  24. Steve V says:

    None of the current liberals on the Court hold a candle to Brennan or Marshall, or even Republican-appointed Blackmun. This includes Clinton’s appointments. The age of big-time liberal activist judging ended long ago, probably with the demise of Earl Warren, not that that stops conservatives from complaining about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  25. Rob in CT says:

    @Boyd:

    Yes, if those appointees really are standard-issue liberals, it undermines Steven’s argument somewhat.

    And I think saying Obama is a moderate Republican is probably overstating things slightly. But only slightly. There is plenty of other ammo for the claim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  26. @Rob in CT:

    And I think saying Obama is a moderate Republican is probably overstating things slightly. But only slightly.

    I can live with that assessment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  27. David says:

    @Boyd: I’d put both of them to the right or Warren and Marshall. When the left heavy hitters retire or die, we don’t get someone like them on the court. All of George W Bush’s spots are to the right of Renquist. At least in my opinion. You can disagree with my view of the judges, but at the very least you have to agree the republican appointees have gone further to the right. And I don’t think you can say the left has gone to the left to the same degree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  28. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: So, in your estimation, evidence has to be complete and comprehensive in order to “tend to refute,” Steven? If so, we’re operating with completely different definitions of the pertinent words.

    …you still have to deal with the rest of the post.

    And as I indicated in my very first comment, I was addressing one single point of your post. Is that no longer allowed here, especially since I didn’t dispute your overall conclusion?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  29. @Boyd:

    So, in your estimation, evidence has to be complete and comprehensive in order to “tend to refute,” Steven? If so, we’re operating with completely different definitions of the pertinent words.

    I am not asking for “complete and comprehensive” evidence, I am asking for evidence beyond an assertion.

    And as I indicated in my very first comment, I was addressing one single point of your post. Is that no longer allowed here, especially since I didn’t dispute your overall conclusion?

    Fair enough on the one hand, but on the other you seem to be using this one component of the discussion to attempt to refute my entire argument. After all, you are the one who wrote “But they do tend to refute Steven’s claim that President Obama is (just like) a moderate Republican” (and you were referring only to two SCOTUS nominees).

    I am willing to concede that of the things listed, judicial appointments are the area least conducive to my point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  30. John Peabody says:

    The comments here are far, far more congenial than I would have thought. Kudos to the OTB people. The post itself is…hmmph! Disturbing…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. @John Peabody:

    The comments here are far, far more congenial than I would have thought.

    Yes, well, it seems certain folks are away from their computers at the moment…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  32. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: First, I specified that I wasn’t addressing any of your other points, plus I never claimed that judicial allotments are sufficient to overcome all of your arguments. You’re assuming things I never said, and in the process, putting words in my mouth.

    And just as you provided no evidence beyond an assertion regarding judicial appointments, I’m not sure why you would hold me to a higher standard than you hold yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  33. Boyd says:

    *appointments

    I hate commenting from my phone, so I think I’ll shut up for now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. ponce says:

    Obama reminds me of my favorite Republican president, George H.W. Bush.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Jib says:

    @PJ: Oh Romney will pivot to the center, it is what he does. He is doing it now but the dynamic of the running in the republican primary causes him to track back to the right. He pivots to the the center, gets attacked for it, ‘clarifies’ his statement by pulling it back to the right.

    In the general election, there will be less attacking for being moderate and more attacking for being too right wing and his natural tendencies will be allowed to run unchecked.

    It is going to be an interesting election. Nate Silver has shown that the difference between 2008 and 2010 was turn out. Very few people change their mind and switched parties, demoralized dems stayed home and fired up repubs turned out, the opposite of what happened in 2008. With conservatives unhappy with Romney and liberals with Obama, who knows what the turn out will be in 2012.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. de stijl says:

    The bi-racial Bob Dole.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  37. @Boyd: Yes, phone-typing can be a pain.

    At any rate, let me be both a bit inflammatory and a bit conciliatory.

    The inflammatory part: to quote you again (which you elided above) “But they do tend to refute Steven’s claim that President Obama is (just like) a moderate Republican”–that sounds like, despite you other protestations, that you are hanging a total refutation on the SCOTUS thing. At a minimum you were unclear in that sentence.

    The conciliatory part:

    And just as you provided no evidence beyond an assertion regarding judicial appointments, I’m not sure why you would hold me to a higher standard than you hold yourself.

    You are absolutely correct: I have provided no specific evidence concerning either Kagan or Sotomayor. So: fair enough.

    Again, as I am pretty sure I said several times: the judicial appointment issue is the weakest part of my position. I would maintain that my impression of the high profile appointments has been such that they have not seemed especially liberal (certainly not more liberal than a Souter, a GOP appointee). But I have to admit that at the moment I cannot provide specific evidence to back the claim.

    Having said that: I really wasn’t making my argument based on court appointees.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  38. oops: I had to delete a rather important mis-applied “not” from the above. The sentence should have read (and now does): “that sounds like, despite you other protestations, that you are hanging a total refutation on the SCOTUS thing.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Not that I’m all that knowledgable about judicial appointments, but I know even less about most of the other stuff you mention.

    And your points seem very one-sided. Are you saying that there are no actions by the Obama Administration which would argue the opposite position? And if there are, why did you leave them out? Are they too few?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  40. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It sounds like you’re equating “tend to refute” with “total refutation of.” If so, we seem to have very different definitions for those phrases.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  41. Ryan Spires says:

    Good article. For those who believe there are “radicals” on the SCOTUS, examine corporate personhood or money as speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  42. Jib says:

    @Boyd:

    The standard Stephen set forth as moderate was “90’s republican”. Bob Dole will work as a stand in. Stephen did mention DADT although he downed played it more than I think he should. Bob Dole would not support the repeal of DADT in the 90’s so it is a liberal position. Gay rights is one of the few places the country is moving to the left so it is not particularly radical.

    The only other thing I can think of is some of his appointments that did not go through. Some of them were left of center and would not have been a part of a Dole administration. Several that also did not get approved would have been at home in a Dole administration so I am not if that proves anything one way or another.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. michael reynolds says:

    40 plus comments in and the only challenge to Steven Taylor’s premise is in the area of SCOTUS appointees.

    That’s very telling.

    I score a “toldja so” on this. I’ve said from the start that Obama is vey moderate. I’ve said that his policies in no way rationally justified the extraordinary fury exhibited on the right. I’ve said that the extremism on display was entirely on the right, and that a big part of it was racism.

    Mr. Taylor is exactly right: Mr. Obama is basically a moderate Republican. Which is why in the GOP he is one iteration of the chameleon known as Mitt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  44. @Jib:

    Stephen did mention DADT although he downed played it more than I think he should.

    That’s fair, although I would counter that even a large number of Republicans have moderated on this topic. And public support for the DADT repeal was pretty large.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. James Joyner says:

    @Boyd:

    “Without passing any type of value judgment on the votes of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, it’s pretty clear that no Republican would come within about a million lightyears of nominating either one of them. “

    Well, actually, Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  46. Liberty60 says:

    @James Joyner: But no True Scotsman would have appointed them!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  47. @James Joyner:

    Well, actually, Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.

    Ah, yes. Shame I didn’t think of that earlier ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  48. mannning says:

    Could it be that Obama found it practically impossible to install all of his hope and change plans immediately once he was in the office of President? Was there too much resistence across too many fronts for him to move us further to the left so fast? Did he therefore take the road of lesser resistence for this term, but in fact did accomplish his Health Care goal, and did install his people throughout government in preparation of a second term, while enduring a Congressional setback after 2010?

    Is it so that several big left-leaning legislative fights are going to be postponed until 2013 to avoid controversy in an election year? If Obama is safetly elected for a second term, is the stage set for a much different direction, away from the moderation he has had to practice and towards the more radical he really favors with his seriously increased redistribution of wealth ideas, and the lack of a proper budget for the nation for over two years?

    Perhaps much more importantly, do we have to ignore his well-documented lies, misdirections and broken promises, that quite obviously label him as not trustworthy to be President of the United States? (References abound here if you need them, or just Google “Obama Lies”). One cannot predict the future, of course, but why take the chance that this liar will show his true radical colors rather than remaining somewhat moderate according to Stephen’s screed for another four years?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  49. Mr. Prosser says:

    This has been a fun post to read. I have a question and a request. Is it too early to think about down ballot reactions when the president is co-opting the moderate Rupublican position to a large degree? Would you consider a writing post about down ballot reactions? Finally, is this 1964 redux?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. @mannning:

    Could it be that Obama found it practically impossible to install all of his hope and change plans immediately once he was in the office of President?

    His best chance for legislative success was in 2009 when he had a large Democratic majority in in the House and 60 votes in the Senate. No better chance will emerge in 2013.

    Perhaps, therefore, your argument need some work.

    I would suggest, too, that you look up the definition of “screed.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  51. PogueMahone says:

    @mannning:
    If Obama is safetly elected for a second term, is the stage set for a much different direction, away from the moderation he has had to practice and towards the more radical he really favors with his seriously increased redistribution of wealth ideas, and the lack of a proper budget for the nation for over two years?

    Followed closely by,

    One cannot predict the future, of course,

    Shorter manning: Pay no attention to what Obama has done, but rather, to what I fear he might do, given of course, that no one can predict the future.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  52. Boyd says:

    @James Joyner: Bush 41 also nominated Justice Souter. What’s your point?

    I didn’t stop at the fact that President Obama nominated the two Justices. I also mentioned their votes. They’re quite clearly in the liberal bloc of the Court, as was Souter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  53. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: From the Merriam-Webster web site:

    Definition of SCREED

    1
    a : a lengthy discourse
    b : an informal piece of writing (as a personal letter)
    c : a ranting piece of writing

    So, you weren’t ranting, but your post arguably matches the other two definitions, no?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  54. ponce says:

    Shorter manning: Pay no attention to what Obama has done, but rather, to what I fear he might do…

    IIRC, once Obama wins his second term, which he’ll do by 20-30 million votes, he’ll instantly be labeled a lame duck by members of the “librul” press, the opposition party and his own party and struggle to achieve much of anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  55. rudderpedals says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It took forever to seat Al Franken. There weren’t 60 votes for more than a nominal time. Probably need a 65+ class to overcome the new 60 vote standard for everything anyways…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  56. @Boyd:

    So, you weren’t ranting, but your post arguably matches the other two definitions, no?

    I wouldn’t call it informal writing and I am guessing that he wasn’t commenting on the length…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  57. @rudderpedals: True about Franken. However, the notion that Obama will have a more favorable legislative configuration should he win reelection than he had in 2009 borders on the fantastical in terms of assertions.

    As such, I think that @PogueMahone pretty much nails it:

    Shorter manning: Pay no attention to what Obama has done, but rather, to what I fear he might do, given of course, that no one can predict the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  58. de stijl says:

    Steven L. Taylor,

    I’d just like to comment that I really appreciate that, when someone challenges you, you argue in good faith. That is a rare commodity nowadays.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  59. Hey Norm says:

    Justices are no different than anything else…when Republican Justices are ruling as they did in Citizens United it makes centrist justices appear liberal. Everything is relative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  60. Hey Norm says:

    Shorter Manning…never mind the record, never mind facts…be paranoid and manufacture conspiracy theories out of thin air. And if you need back-up refer to some ultra-right wing nutcases.
    OK…it wasn’t that short.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  61. TheColourfield says:

    @mannning:

    Your avatar says it all.

    Know it all jackass who is actually as sharp as a sack of wet hair.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  62. TheColourfield says:

    @Boyd:

    No.

    SATSQ.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  63. Hey Norm says:

    Just out of curiosity I put Obama Lies into the Google…what a joke. The very first lie was quivering over semantics. If that’s what Manning is hanging his conspiracy theories on…poor Manning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  64. rudderpedals says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Dem control of the House and Obama in a 2nd term would be a much better config even with a loss in the other side that reduces them to only 45 or so Senators. You’d agree with that, yes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  65. superdestroyer says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There is a good chance that Nancy Pelosi will return as Speaker on the House in 2013 and that the Democrats will retain their majority in the Senate. And in a second term, all the Democrats needs is 50 votes.

    All you thesis really shows is that the U.S. does not really want or need two political parties. Politics has become a game of who gets the 3.5 trillion dollars of spending and one party is more than enough to decide to gets the money and who pays the bill.

    Obama being seen as a moderate due to the incompetence, stupidity, and failures of the Bush Administration and the Republican lead Congress from 2001 to 2006. The Republicans increased spending and refused to cut anything because they thought it would cause them to lose election. Yet, all the increased spending and expansion of the government did was make the Democrats stronger and make a $1 trillion dollar budget deficit look moderate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  66. Kylopod says:

    >Further, he is pro-gay marriage

    In an official sense, this isn’t true. From the time he began running for president, he has said he does not support gay marriage. But he did sign a petition in favor of it in 1996, and to this date he has generally opposed measures that attempt to stop gay marriage, such as DOMA and Prop 8. For an overview of his “evolution” on the issue, see the following article:

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/77120/what-does-obama-really-think-about-gay-marriage-telling-timeline

    This seems to be one of Obama’s more obviously cynical and calculated moves. I believe he supports gay marriage. But I think he determined that he couldn’t win the Democratic nomination in 2008 openly holding such a position. No serious candidate up to that point had ever done so, not even “progressive” favorites like Howard Dean or John Edwards. So he did what a lot of politicians do: he flip-flopped. Notice in the TNR article that he initially explained his support for civil unions as a strategic choice rather than a matter of principle. In short, Obama is ASSMINO–Against Same Sex Marriage In Name Only. At least that’s my opinion. Still, officially he opposes it, and it’s incorrect to state otherwise without making clear that you’re speculating.

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  67. mannning says:

    @Hey Norm:

    Here is a perfect example of leftwing logic! Don’t read the whole thing before commenting. Use one item to try to condemn the entire set of comments and even entire references including books on the subject! What a loser with the concept of logic! The fact is there isn’t enough room at this site to print the full set of references on Obama lies!

    There is nothing fabricated about his lying, but naturally he will be excused by libs. It is their natural mode of thinking. Lies are just fine so long as they are from another liberal. Why, they have a real purpose: to further the leftist agenda come what may!

    How anyone can go with Obama, presumably because they think he is a moderate, and despite his lies, is beyond rational and well into fairy tale land.

    Disgusting!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  68. Hey Norm says:

    Manning…sorry I didn’t feel like wasting time on nonsense. “Obama said all the Republicans voted against the tax cut…when Olympia Snow voted for it.” Only the article itself admitted Obama said virtually every Republican. So not only was it a inconsequential matter…they had to lie to even pretend there was even a matter there. Nonsense. Total nonsense. And you are basing your opinions on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  69. michael reynolds says:

    68 comments and no one has laid a glove on Steven Taylor’s premise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  70. Steve V says:

    @superdestroyer:

    “And in a second term, all the Democrats needs is 50 votes.”

    Where do you get that from?! Sheesh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  71. ponce says:

    68 comments and no one has laid a glove on Steven Taylor’s premise.

    Yossarian: Whoo… That’s some premise
    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: It’s the best there is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  72. superdestroyer says:

    @Steve V:

    The Democrats have to recognize that the Republicans are not a real threat anymore. In a second Obama term, the Democrats will eventually do away with the current filibuster rules. It is to their advantage. And they know that the Republicans are fading away and not a long term threat. Why else do you think that the Democrats are planning of big tax increases right after the November election if the Democrats win control of the house.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  73. Hey Norm says:

    @ M. Reynolds…
    And they won’t.
    The question is whether this reality will dawn on the so-called “pundits”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  74. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    How can you lay a glove on someone who is promoting the idea that the U.S. really is a one party state and there is not enough policies to disagree over. Most Americans want a high level of government spendign. Most Americans want a high level of government goodies. Most Americans believe that the U.S. can function with only a small portion of the population paying taxes.

    As the U.S. becomes a one party state, there will be little to disagree or fight over. All politics will be about extracting wealth from the government. See Chicago and how easy it was for Rahm Emanuel to get elected Mayor of Chicago in a race that was never in doubt. Why shouldn’t politics in the U.S. function the same way?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  75. CB says:

    @mattb:

    ::tips hat::

    youve covered all the bases. bravo, sir.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  76. Hey Norm says:

    @ SuperD
    “… Why else do you think that the Democrats are planning of big tax increases right after the November election if the Democrats win control of the house…”
    WTF are you talking about?
    The Bush TaxCuts expire. Is that what you mean? Nothing has to has to be done for that to happen…it’s current law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  77. superdestroyer says:

    @Hey Norm:

    If Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House in 2013, the Social Security taxes will do up, the “Bush” tax cuts will expire, and there will be a new tax on the wealthy. That is what the Democrats have been very open about. No telling what else will do up such as the $0.30 a gallon gas tax that the Democrats in Maryland passed.

    What do you think that the Democrats have pushed off so much till after the next election. They will raise taxes, try to pass their agenda and hunker down for two years and hope the economy gets better and people stop caring.

    In addition, with every passing year, there are fewer automatica Republican voters and more automatic Democratic voters. That is why the Democrats put no effort into appealing to middle class, private sector employed whites.

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  78. ponce says:

    If Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House in 2013…

    It’s funny how many wingnuts are psychics.

    SD, give us your best shot predictions for Iowa:

    Romney = ?%
    Paul = ?%
    Santorum = ?%
    Gingrich = ?%
    etc.

    Come on, burnish your prognosticating bone fides.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  79. Hey Norm says:

    Yes SuperDooper…Democrats are just waiting to raise taxes and surrender to the Muslims. The paranoia is fascinating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  80. jib says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Granted gay rights is now mainstream but I would submit that it is still a liberal position. Unless we have reached the point where by definition popular position can not be liberal but must be moderate.

    Actually I think I am ok with it as long as we apply it consistantly. Popular positions can only be moderate, not liberal or conservative

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  81. An Interested Party says:

    The post itself is…hmmph! Disturbing…

    Why and how?

    Could it be that Obama found it practically impossible to install all of his hope and change plans immediately once he was in the office of President?

    Oh yes, of course…why, he’s the Manchurian Candidate!

    Bush 41 also nominated Justice Souter. What’s your point?

    Umm, probably that your statement about how “no Republican would come within about a million light years of nominating either one of them” is incorrect, as a Republican did nominate one of them, albeit, to a lower court, but you didn’t specify a particular court…

    This thread has actually been quite fascinating…Boyd has presented a calm, if incorrect, rebuttal, but the early predictions about how the usual suspects would show up with spittle-laced invective have not come to pass (well, except for mannning and one-note wonder superdestroyer)…of course, the thread may still be young…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  82. anjin-san says:

    @ Manning

    (References abound here if you need them, or just Google “Obama Lies”).

    Fascinating stuff. Now I am moving on to searching the Googles for “space aliens in our midst”, followed by “the moon landing was a hoax”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  83. @de stijl:

    I’d just like to comment that I really appreciate that, when someone challenges you, you argue in good faith. That is a rare commodity nowadays.

    I appreciate you saying so. I do honestly try (although I still know I can get a bit testy at times…).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  84. @superdestroyer:

    How can you lay a glove on someone who is promoting the idea that the U.S. really is a one party state and there is not enough policies to disagree over.

    FYI: not the premise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  85. @Boyd:

    Bush 41 also nominated Justice Souter. What’s your point?

    The point is to note that yes, indeed, a moderate Republican might could nominate someone like Sotomayor or Souter (because, well, one did).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  86. @rudderpedals:

    Dem control of the House and Obama in a 2nd term would be a much better config even with a loss in the other side that reduces them to only 45 or so Senators. You’d agree with that, yes?

    Dem control of the House would be roughly the same, as the key is leadership more than config of caucus, but I see what you are saying. The key, however, in the Senate and I cannot see a situation in 2013 in the Senate that would be better than 2009.

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  87. superdestroyer says:

    @Hey Norm:

    The Democrats have been quite open about their desire to raise taxes. Look at the number one item for the OWS: raise taxes on the rich. Look at the accolades that Elizabeth Warren has gotten for calling for higher taxes on the rich.

    David Axelrod knows that raising taxes on the rich is a huge political winner and will make the U.S. more like Chicago where the rich are in the same economic niche that commuters currently fill in Chicago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  88. superdestroyer says:

    @ponce:

    Who cares what the Iowa caucus results are? They are irrelevant to politics in the U.S. The Republicans are just going through the motions to pick someone who will lose in a rout to President Obama. That the Republicans are doing to have to spend funds in Virginia and North Carolina should be enough to convince anyone that the Republicans are going to lose and lose badly.

    The unknown is how bad will the top of the ticket hurt the down ticket races. Look at the number of Republicans are representing districts that President Obama carried in 2008. All of those incumbents have to be vulnerable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  89. mannning says:

    We have all the proof needed to label Obama a consummate liar. So whether he is radical, moderate or something else is quite beside the point.

    Anyone preferring a future President that is a proven liar deserves what he gets later on. In fact, not only can’t you predict the future, you can’t predict the directions and lies of your choice for President, so you are touting total uncertainty, including a new batch of debt busting lies and misdirections to absorb: that is the one and only thing you can count on from Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  90. superdestroyer says:

    @mannning:

    A shorter version of what you are saying is: There is no reason to pay attention to what politicians are saying during an election because it has no bearing on how they will govern. Their past actions are the only way to evaluate a politician. Another way to evaluate politicians is how do they live their private lives versus how they talk in public. Their private lives show the real person.

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  91. Kylopod says:

    It should be noted that a while back Ezra Klein made the same point as Greenwald does here: that Obama’s policies are what used to be thought of as moderate Republican. Klein’s thesis received pushback from some liberal bloggers. (See here and here for examples.) Their basic argument is that proposals such as the individual mandate and cap-and-trade were tactical compromises with attempted expansions of the welfare state and business regulation. Republicans supported them, but only because they thought it would be accepted more easily than opposing the expansions altogether.

    I do think these discussions are useful as a way of refuting the right-wing lie, spread by Fox and talk radio and accepted uncritically by all the current GOP presidential candidates, that Obama is a radical. There is nothing remotely radical about a single policy he has proposed, much less passed. Posts like this one by Steven Taylor are helpful reminders of that fact.

    But contrary to what some disappointed liberals have been saying, Obama has in fact governed to the left of where any Republican, even a so-called moderate like McCain, would have. Bush and McCain proposed health-care reforms, but Bush never seriously pursued it, and McCain wouldn’t have either. Yes, Obama has continued many of the Bush-era policies on the national security state, but that has more to do with the way presidents tend to maintain the status quo in many areas, and yes, I think a President McCain would have definitely been worse on this issue.

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  92. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The point is to note that yes, indeed, a moderate Republican might could nominate someone like Sotomayor or Souter (because, well, one did).

    No offense SLT, but this is a *bit* of slight of hand. Nominations for district appointments do not equal nominations for the supreme court. So in that case, it’s not unheard of, by any means, for Presidents to put forward a more ideologically diverse set of nominations. Further the Justices are more or less nominated by the senators.

    I suspect there would have been little chance that Bush would have put forward Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.

    As far as Souter there were a lot of mitigating circumstances in his nomination. A better one to look at might be O’Connor, who on paper appeared to be a solid conservative, but tended to be seen as more liberal once she got onto the bench.

    In any case, none of this disproves your central thesis.

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  93. mattb says:

    My only question Manning, is that based on your criteria, what president in recent memory wouldn’t be labeled a “consummate liar?” Possibly Carter, but that seems about it. After all, one can easily google: Regan Lies, Clinton Lies, Bush (either) Lies…

    Likewise, what about the current alternatives to Obama… I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that Gingrich is surely a consummate liar. And according to most of right wing media, so too is Romney. We can go on from there…

    Of course, if we actually look to an attempt to quantify Obama’s promises and statements, the situation might not be quite what you’re representing:
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/
    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/barack-obama/

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  94. Nikki says:

    Anyone preferring a future President that is a proven liar deserves what he gets later on.

    I agree completely! You guys need to do whatever you can to stop Romney, Gingrich, Paul, Bachmann, Santorum, and Perry from ever getting anywhere near the White House.

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  95. john personna says:

    I guess, meta-level, the proof is that “Obama is moderate” brings out the psychos. I mean, who is most upset by the proposition? It has to be the current sufferers of Presidential Derangement Syndrome.

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  96. @mattb:

    No offense SLT, but this is a *bit* of slight of hand. Nominations for district appointments do not equal nominations for the supreme court. So in that case, it’s not unheard of, by any means, for Presidents to put forward a more ideologically diverse set of nominations

    None taken.

    Beyond this, however, Boyd’s claim was (speaking of Kagan and Sotomayor): “it’s pretty clear that no Republican would come within about a million lightyears of nominating either one of them”–and while I do not expect that either would may been appointed to the Supreme Court by a a Republican, Boyd’s hyperbole is undercut by the fact that Sotomayor was, in fact, appointed to a lower court by Bush. Likewise Souter’s nomination (and yes, I recall the situation surrounding his appointment) illustrates that no, not all GOP nominees are Scalia clones.

    I also think that the assumption here is that both Kagan and Sotomayor are super-liberals because they were appointed by a Democrat, not because of any specific reasons. This plays into my overall point: that the application of words like “liberal” or “socialist” or, for that matter, “conservative” are being applied based on assumption about party affiliation and othe partisan political factors rather than analysis of actual behavior/policies.

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  97. @Kylopod:

    Obama has in fact governed to the left of where any Republican, even a so-called moderate like McCain, would have

    Agreed.

    My point is not (despite Superdestroyer’s misinterpretations) that the parties are the same or that Obama is no different than McCain might have done. My point is that Obama is a more centrist than most Republicans (and especially the conservative commentariat) makes him out to be.

    And I do think that there was a time (and with some modification of positions) that Obama could* have run as a moderate Republican. Of course, such a statement is speculative and partially made just to spark thought on the subject.

    Two key take-aways (in my opinion):

    1. Calling Obama any of the following is empirically incorrect: socialist/radical/extreme liberal/”the most liberal president”

    2. The fact that Obama is, in fact, pretty moderate has helped fuel the rightward shift in the GOP (which helps us better understand contemporary politics).

    *Note, I originally typed “would” here, but meant “could”–more explanation below.

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  98. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    >And I do think that there was a time (and with some modification of positions) that Obama would have run as a moderate Republican.

    There we disagree. As the pieces I linked to by Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias point out, you have to consider where politicians are coming from whenever they make a proposal. Bush Sr. was presiding over a Democratic Congress; Dole and other Republicans who proposed health-care reform were doing it because they believed they couldn’t stop Clintoncare without proposing an alternative. In principle, none of these people were in favor of stricter environmental regulations or expansions of the welfare state. They simply believed they had no choice but to give in at least a little.

    Likewise, Obama has said in the past that he supports single-payer, at least in theory. His position on this issue hasn’t always been consistent, but his reservations basically boil down to his reluctance to disrupt the current health-insurance market, and his belief that the Congress we have would never agree to pass single-payer. Philosophically, however, he starts from the premise that single-payer is the ideal, just as Dole started from the premise that it was the worst-case scenario.

    Obama’s liberal critics argue that Obama is too quick to compromise, giving him a weaker position at the negotiating table. But this is a question of tactics, not ideology. I simply don’t accept the idea, pushed by Greenwald and others, that Obama is some closet conservative who’s deliberately trying to move his party rightward while only pretending to care about progressive goals. I think the opposite is true: I see him as essentially a left-of-center thinker who’s trying to shift American policy leftward in the face of enormous intransigence from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

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  99. @Kylopod: Let me make one correction to my sentence (not that it necessarily changes your response.

    Instead of “that Obama would have run as a moderate Republican,” I meant to say “could”–“would” creates a different interpretation that “could” (and, I would, “could have run” and “could have won” are two different things).

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  100. Kylopod says:

    Okay, that makes more sense.

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  101. @Kylopod: One little letter can make a lot of difference!

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  102. michael reynolds says:

    101 Comments and I’d say Steven Taylor has proven his point convincingly: Mr. Obama is indeed a moderate and indeed could have been a moderate Republican back in the days before the GOP became a full time asylum.

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  103. mannning says:

    @mattb:

    So this means that you support other liars such as Clinton, Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, Frank and the like? Apparently, being a politician also means being a liar in your universe. I can forgive mistakes, and I can understand changes of opinion over time, that is only human, but to promote a bold-faced lie consistently in order to become or remain viable politically is beyond the pale.

    If this universe of liars of yours is true, then it must be up to each individual to pick the liars to vote for that bother them the least, which in my case is as close to conservatives as one can get, since the conservative agenda is founded on common sense, a vision of the future and prudence. It is rather difficult to ascertain just what the liberal agenda is other than self-aggrandizement and more lies.

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  104. mattb says:

    @mannning, your conviently ignore the main thrust of my post… simply that if one was to honestly apply you notion of “liar” — regardless of political party — we would find that all of us have supported “liars” in the past.

    Of course, being the partisan you are, you cannot possibly admit that anyone you support has engaged in these same “lying” practices and so you rhetorically attempt to link lying only with liberals and democrats. Color me surprised at your fundamental inability to have an honest and open conversation. You are a testament to popular conservative media as always.

    I expect, you will center your response on the fact I’ve called you a partisan — something I’m sure you’re refer to as a trick of the left (which also seems to pretend that you’re not deploying similar tactics in service of your blind defense of populist conservatism).

    However, I have yet to have seen, in any of your posts, any attempt to rise above rank partisanship. But, I’m happy to be proven wrong… To that point, a challenge for you: state at this point, who you are supporting to run against Obama.

    If it’s Gingrich or Romney or Paul or Perry or Bachmann, please explain to me how they don’t fall into the same categorization of “liar” you seem to be happy to throw around with anyone on the left.

    Further, I’d also love to see you pledge, here and now, that if a “lying” candidate should win the Republican nod, that you’d stick to your principles and choose *not* to vote for them in the election.

    And, to avoid asking you to do something that I would not do myself… let me be clear: I expect that I’ll be voting for Obama next year. And further, if I was able to vote in a Republican primary, I would support either Romney or Huntsman. So personally, I can more or less support those sorts of “liars” — I would not, however be able to support the other sorts of “liars” that make up the vast majority of the other, “not Romney” Republican candidates.

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  105. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I do not expect that either would may been appointed to the Supreme Court by a a Republican, Boyd’s hyperbole is undercut by the fact that Sotomayor was, in fact, appointed to a lower court by Bush. Likewise Souter’s nomination (and yes, I recall the situation surrounding his appointment) illustrates that no, not all GOP nominees are Scalia clones.

    My main point was to remind that who gets “nominated” depends a LOT on what the position is. For lower courts, I totally agree with the point you are making. That said, if Boyd was thinking of the Supreme Court, I’d have to support the general thrust of his point — a moderate conservative wouldn’t ever nominate Kagan or Sotomayor — if for no other reason than I’m sure that more, on paper, (female) conservatives could have been found. Boyd’s language might have been hyperbolic, but his point stands.

    I also think that the assumption here is that both Kagan and Sotomayor are super-liberals because they were appointed by a Democrat, not because of any specific reasons.

    Agreed. This get’s to Kylopod’s point about record versus what is supposedly in one’s “heart.”

    Partisans are always concerned about the content of one’s “heart” (which they have some sort of special access to) rather than their record. The record — actual action — is always secondary and easily ignored when it conflicts with reality.

    So for Manning, Eric and others*, Obama has to be a crypto muslim calculating genius (or/and a mushy-headed fool/naive idealist of a marxist whose been affirmatively action’d into this position), because only they can see the REAL pattern that is hidden beneath the record (btw, the same was true of GWB’s critics on the radical left). The fact that none of them have been able to actually attack the substance of your post beyond vaguely suggesting what Obama would have done if he wasn’t restricted (btw. I wonder what many of them thought about the left’s musings about what Cheney would have done if people hadn’t gotten in the way had any basis), only serves as proof of this derangement.

    * – Boyd, to be clear, I’m not counting you among those others…

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  106. mannning says:

    All in all, I go with Gingrich. He has the best conservative record and the experience in DC. I could live with Romney if he is elected, but he is not the idea man Gingrich is, and he doesn’t have DC smarts. His off target ideas can be handled, I believe, in favor of his good ideas. Since I have to choose, I choose the closest to my ideals of fiscal and social conservatism.

    In my lexicon, there is absolutely nothing wrong with championing a partisan cause that you believe in, and I do believe in my brand of conservatism. I will never be able to vote for the perfect candidate, of course, so I must compromise my ideals and vote for the Republican candidate. I can also be sure to point out the flaws of the opponent insofar as they are known.

    This is despite the certain knowledge that all of the candidates are flawed to some degree, and have lied in the past. If I must vote for a liar, let him be my kind of liar, and not a Democratic kind of liar.

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  107. grumpy realist says:

    @mannning: Given the comments made about Newt by the Republicans who used to “work” with him, you might prefer Romney. Newt is just too batsh*t crazy.

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  108. mattb says:

    @mannning:

    If I must vote for a liar, let him be my kind of liar, and not a Democratic kind of liar.

    Thanks for stating that openly. I’m not sure that we’ll find much else to agree on, so I think it’s best to close on that note of agreement.

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  109. gVOR08 says:

    I challenge my conservative friends to show me something Obama’s done that Richard Nixon wouldn’t have done in the same circumstances. Or for that matter, anything that Nixon didn’t actually DO. (Proposed a health car plan more liberal than Obamacare, was OK on the environment, never had occasion to bail out a car company, but certainly said ‘we’re all Keynesians now’. About the only thing Obama has done that Nixon didn’t, is end his big war in his first term.)

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  110. mannning says:

    @gVOR08:

    You don’t mean living instead of dying, of course?

    I fail to see what this comparison accomplishes. The differing circumstances alone argue that the comparison would fall in the category of wishful thinking. I cannot place Nixon into the conservative category: he was a Republican, however, although he was one of those inveterate liars that I loathe, and had a really dirty mouth to boot in private. Is Obama an inveterate liar and does he have a dirty mouth in private? Now that would put him in the same category for sure!

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  111. @mannning:

    had a really dirty mouth to boot in private

    Well, if you are concerned with that issue, I suggest voting for Tony Dungy, and otherwise you are likely to be disappointed.

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  112. mannning says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I pass on these heresay accusations as they mean little in the scheme of things. Leadership is not a popularity contest, for one thing. It turns out also that bright people often do not wear well with close associates, a fact that is quite evident even here in this blog. I suspect that Gingrich is one who believes that he is right most of the time, and others are wrong. The really maddening thing is, it is true: he is right far more often than wrong. That may be hard to keep up with for highly opinionated people, don’t you think?

    Anyway, I rate his chances of election to be less than 40%, so it may not be a problem for others.

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  113. mannning says:

    @mannning:

    So you think that a really dirty mouth does not matter? I do not mean throwing around a curse or two, I mean not being able to utter a sentence without inserting a dirty word or so, as was the case with Nixon in private. Reminds me of the first drill sergeant I ever encountered. If that is the case with Obama, or Gingrich or Romney for that matter, so much the worse for us all.

    Do you have a really dirty mouth in private? I don’t.

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  114. mannning says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Sorry, I hit the wrong reply word

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  115. @mannning:

    So you think that a really dirty mouth does not matter?

    I don’t think it does, no.

    Do you have a really dirty mouth in private? I don’t.

    No, I don’t. Indeed, I am fairly low-level deployer of profanity. If you want an example, my wife fussed at me the other day for saying “damn” (not that I don’t occasionally use various and sundry more colorful language).

    And seriously, “dirty mouth” sounds rather, well, grandmotherly.

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  116. mannning says:

    Well, dirty mouth was what I came up with on the moment, probably because of raising kids and grandkids to keep it clean. So I would use the term “fatherly or grandfatherly” myself.

    Since I broached the subject and you responded with a “so what” I feel the need to go a step further.

    My first thought is that it can reflect a dirty turn of mind, a thought process somewhat like that drill sergeant, who seemed to have no other mode of expression, and a jumbled up mind.

    My second thought is that it may reflect the ability to compartmentalize one’s thought processes into at least clean versus dirty as a function of the audience. The problem there is the open mike accident or forgetfulness a la Nixon and others. The world finds out his potty mouth eventually, to his discredit, and perhaps in rather august company or the entire nation.

    My third thought is that a potty mouth is extremely rude, crude and unattractive to witness or to be the receiver thereof, and it reflects a complete lack of etiquette. It is an affront to my sensibilities, not that I’d ever be close enough to a President to be affronted by him!

    It is somewhat akin to the liar syndrome when voting. You have only so many choices, not voting being not counted at all, so you pick someone and hope he will not be an embarassment for either lying or cursing in public. (Come to think of it, I have not heard Obama curse at all…)

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  117. John D'Geek says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I want to disagree with you. I want to, but I can’t. The best I can do is nit on your chart (basic accounting: a decrease in income is not a cost. Yes, it can increase your debt — but it’s not a cost).

    Thinking back to my own perceptions of Obama, have you done a “Rehetoric vs. Action” type analysis on Obama? I know that I was basing my opinions on what he said (and, probably more importantly, how he said it) rather than what was actually accomplished. Could this be, if you’ll pardon the analogy, like WWII? The Japanese had plenty of Propaganda out there stating how the Emperor was Sacred, In Charge, no one would defy him, ect. Who believed it? We did. The Japanese knew better. (Embracing Defeat is a good book, but there is plenty of evidence out there).

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  118. @John D’Geek: The basic answer I would give on the rhetoric v. reality issue is something that has stuck with me for 20+ years (it was something a professor said to a class when I was an undergrad): pay attention to what politicians do, not what they say.

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  119. Eric Florack says:

    Obama is unquestionably the farthest (shouldn’t this country has ever had. The Greenwald, one of the least honest people in the sphere, would try to spin it that he is actually centrist, is amusing.

    What frightens me is that we’ve seen the same argument, time and again on this web site here.

    I suggest this is the result of years of conditioning. After a while, you get rather used to the idea of that elephant in the room, to the point where you tend to ignore it. On other apt description of this would be the boiled frog syndrome. this country has been leaned left by its media for so long now, since the thirties in fact, that anyone daring to have actual conservative thoughts is deemed an extremist. The left, is the new center.

    Which in turn, is precisely why the prospect of actual conservatives showing up within the GOP primary are relatively small.

    The lack of ability of the GOP to come up with any seriously conservative candidates, indeed their unwillingness to do so, in combination with the obvious lean of the Democrats and specifically Brock Obama leads me to a rather startling conclusion; If this bunch is the best we’ve got perhaps we deserve to go down the destructive road that any one of these individuals would lead us.

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  120. @Eric Florack: This is called an assertion, not an argument.

    To make an argument you need to provide evidence for your position.

    Simply saying something is so does not makes it such.

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  121. Eric Florack says:

    @Eric Florack: This is called an assertion, not an argument.

    When you see the same requirement being applied to win Greenwald, come back and talk to me.

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  122. @Eric Florack: That is an utter dodge. What in the world does Greenwald have to do with this discussion? This post isn’t about Greenwald. the discussion in the comment thread isn’t about Greenwald, and your assertion about Obama isn’t, by definition, about Greenwald.

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