Obama “the most Left-leaning President ever elected”?

Is Obama really the most liberal President ever? Not really.

I was reading this round up of tax cut deal opinions by Ed Morrisey, and came across this line, which absolutely made me laugh.

Obama, the most Left-leaning President ever elected, just endorsed the Bush tax rates for another two years

Obama’s the most “the most Left-leaning President ever elected”? Seriously? This is the guy who, since he took office, has slashed taxes, enacted the Republican plan for health care reform (at least, it was the Republican plan until Obama began to champion it), authorized the assassination of American citizens, continued the practices of torture and rendition, doubled down in Afghanistan, bailed out big corporations, and embraced the international jihad against Wikileaks.

Good lord, Obama’s further to the right of Reagan and Nixon. The former pushed for amnesty for illegals and embraced tax increases to help control deficits while the latter put forth the EPA, Clean Air Act, negotiation with China, etc. In the meantime, Obama kicked Cap and Trade and the Dream Act to the curb on its priority list upon taking office, “ObamaCare” is a much more conservative proposal than Nixon’s universal health care proposal was, and we seem to be gearing up to at least a limited military conflict with Iran.

Seeing Obama as “Left-leaning” just shows how far to the right the political consensus has moved in the past two decades.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, US Politics
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    I guess I have to repeat to you the criticism I aimed at Doug earlier. You cannot take comments like this as some sort of an attempt at objectively characterizing the world – such that we can then have a rational discussion as to whether the characterization is accurate or not.

    Morrisey is a partisan activist. Aside from the fact that he needs to insert an insult toward Obama in everything he writes, just so his readers can get their fixes, he also has a very obvious interest in characterizing Obama as a far leftist. He is trying to redefine the political center as the far-left, so that his own position, which is pretty far right, appears rather centrist.

    I am sure this should be obvious to all – so why even bother to engage the question? Its not a serious point, just his attempt to frame things to his advantage.

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    Tano,

    I agree with you on Morrisey’s rhetorical point — I’m trying to challenge that framing by pointing out that, well, it’s wrong.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    By any objective measure Obama is as described. His ineffectiveness has led to failures and the fact he is a politician forced him to compromise but he is very left leaning. Who is more left leaning? Morrisey’s point is he is the most and if you disagree then certainly you might nominate someone who is more.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    Who is more left leaning?

    Reagan and Nixon both.

  5. mantis says:

    It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong. All that matters is it moves the Overton Window.

    If Obama is an extreme leftist, then any policy he endorses is implicitly extremist to the left, even if it’s the same things Reagan did, or Republicans in the 90s advocated, etc. Plus the wingnuts audience all think Obama is the second coming of Hitler/Stalin/Satan/Malcolm X, and if the loudmouths don’t confirm that every 2.5 seconds, they’ll catch hell and lose readers/listeners.

  6. mantis says:

    Steve Plunk can see past the policies and the compromises, deep into Obama’s soul, where he sees the president is the leftiest leftist evah, but keeps it a secret.

  7. ponce says:

    It’s only natural for pundits to want to live in the most “x” period ever…but, thankfully, we live in pretty dull times.

  8. sam says:

    “Morrisey’s point is he is the most and if you disagree then certainly you might nominate someone who is more.”

    Richard Nixon was farther left, in terms of the programs enacted, than Obama — not that history is Plunk’s strong point (or the right now, for that matter).

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    Sam, Mantis, and who ever else might want to sling insults rather than debate like grown ups,

    Obama has pushed legislation to nationalize fully 1/6th of the economy, nationalized a portion of the nations automobile industry, and spent borrowed money attempting to stimulate the economy based upon Keynesian economics. It’s important to look at who controlled congress during Nixon’s and Reagan’s terms.

    I can’t see into Obama’s soul and what part of history do I have wrong? Just because he’s not as liberal as you might want doesn’t make him any less a liberal leftist.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Reagan raised more taxes. Nixon did more to expand government. LBJ did more to advance civil rights. FDR did a whole lot more to expand government. Teddy Roosevelt did more to bring land under federal control. And of course Washington grew a lot more pot.

    It’s a stupid exercise — leftist is a meaningless term and Morrisey has long since abandoned any claim to credibility. “Captain Ed” is just Malkin’s Cabin Boy now.

  11. ponce says:

    “Captain Ed” is just Malkin’s Cabin Boy now.

    I believe he’s known as “Special” Ed.

    Don’t forget Nixon’s wage and price controls…doesn’t get more lefty than that.

  12. Alex Knapp says:

    Steve,

    Obama has pushed legislation to nationalize fully 1/6th of the economy

    When?

    nationalized a portion of the nations automobile industry

    (a) The government has sold off almost half its ownership of G.M. (b) Are you saying that government ownership of stock is equivalent to nationalization? So to the extent that, say, government pension funds are invested in the stock market, the government has nationalized the companies that it owns stock in? What does that mean for Republican plans to place social security funds in the stock market? Is that nationalization, too?

    spent borrowed money attempting to stimulate the economy based upon Keynesian economics

    Like Bush II and Reagan. Not to mention he’s persistently tried to stimulate the economy with tax cuts, forcing the government to borrow more money….

    It’s important to look at who controlled congress during Nixon’s and Reagan’s terms.

    (a) The President can veto bills.
    (b) Presidents Reagan and Nixon proposed the policies I outlined.

  13. mantis says:

    Obama has pushed legislation to nationalize fully 1/6th of the economy,

    You mean healthcare? That’s a lie. That industry is not being nationalized.

    nationalized a portion of the nations automobile industry,

    The auto bailouts started with Bush as part of TARP, the industry was not nationalized, the government doesn’t run any of the auto companies. All they did was issue bailout loans, help manage bankruptcy and restructuring, and then got out of the way. They saved those companies, saved Michigan from much worse economic conditions, saved a ton of jobs, got all the money back from GM, and most from Chrysler.

    and spent borrowed money attempting to stimulate the economy based upon Keynesian economics.

    That’s your evidence that he’s the most left-leaning president ever? Really?

    I can’t see into Obama’s soul and what part of history do I have wrong?

    All of it.

  14. john personna says:

    Steve Plunk, you can’t see straight.

    Seriously. You are talking “nationalization of the auto industry?”

    Seriously? They were minding their own business, making their own profits, and one day Obama sent in the socialist troops?

    No, wait. They went to him? That doesn’t fit the narrative.

    (What Obama is really more a Washington apparatchik than anyone expected. Progressives didn’t expect it, because they saw a revolutionary. Republicans can’t accept it, because no matter how many billions he funnels to Wall Street, he is still a class warrior.)

  15. In the later years of the Roman Republic, one faction’s policy proposals were decried as the imminent death of liberty and anointment of a would-be king, and opposed with sometimes actually violent vehemence so as to sway the results of the next elections in favor of the formerly-protesting faction.

    When the formerly-protesting faction would take power, they would proceed to propose functionally the same new policy proposals, except with their people to be put in power instead of the other guys. The new opposition (which had formerly been in the majority) would suddenly cast themselves as the dwindling but noble guardians of ancient traditions and liberties, fighting a losing battle against ruthless monarchists, sometimes resorting to violence to influence the results of the next election, and so the cycle continued, escalating in tone, for the two generations between the Gracchi’s attempts at land reform and Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon.

    The historical parallels should be obvious enough for the audience here. Students of history will also recall that the cycle broke in a manner that ended rather badly for champions of republican government.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Plunk:

    Don’t argue history. You don’t know any.

  17. reid says:

    “nationalize 1/6 of the economy”? That sounds like a blatant wingnut talking point. So does “nationalize a portion of the auto industry”, for that matter. Come on, do you really think Obama wants the government to own a piece of, much less run, GM forever? Like Alex says, partisans are willing to spin reality or worse just to foster hate for the other side. Sad.

  18. anjin-san says:

    > By any objective measure Obama is as described

    Really? Still waiting for you to back up your claim that his administration is self described as anti-business.

    Till you do, you are either a liar, or someone who is too stupid to know when he is simply repeating someone else’s BS as if it were the truth.

    If you want to go on about adult discussion, kindly be prepared to back up the claims you make, or man up and admit you are wrong.

    For someone who likes to portray himself as an independent thinker, your posts consist largely of right wing talking points.

  19. floyd says:

    Obama…” Left-leaning”(lol) c’mon… could anybody honestly call that leaning?
    Judge the intent, not all leftists are competent.

    FDR and Carter were elected. Were they just leaning?

  20. Steve Plunk says:

    anjin, Did you not Google like I suggested? I’m not going to do it for you. Liar? Stupid? I’ve held my own here long enough to know better.

    Forcing people to buy health insurance seems like nationalizing the program to me. It matters not who went to who for the GM bailout. Notice they subsequently forced the firing of the CEO? Obama should have maybe offered help but buying up the company at the expense of stock and bond holders for the sake of the UAW is nationalizing. Temporary? Maybe.

    Alex, Government pension funds are not the government. They are separate entities managed by trustees or directors. The size of the stimulus is an indicator of Obamas belief in large government programs when looking to solve our problems. Taken as a whole his history, policies, and rhetoric point directly to him being the most leftist president we have ever had.

  21. mantis says:

    Forcing people to buy health insurance seems like nationalizing the program to me.

    Then you don’t know the meaning of the word “nationalize.”

    Obama should have maybe offered help but buying up the company at the expense of stock and bond holders for the sake of the UAW is nationalizing.

    Ah, those stock and bond holders who would have made out so well if the company disappeared, right? If the auto companies were nationalized, the government would be running them. They aren’t.

    The size of the stimulus is an indicator of Obamas belief in large government programs when looking to solve our problems.

    How so?

    Taken as a whole his history, policies, and rhetoric point directly to him being the most leftist president we have ever had.

    Actually, whatever you imagine his policies to be, and whatever you imagine recent history to be, reality be damned, leads you to believe he’s the most leftist president we have ever had. Ignorance of the facts leads to ignorant conclusions.

  22. Tano says:

    “Forcing people to buy health insurance seems like nationalizing the program to me.”

    But that is hardly the point Steve. Under no possible interpretation of what the word “nationalize” means in the English language, does “forcing people to buy health insurance” qualify. So whatever point you were hoping to make gets completely lost because people see your words as patently untrue on their face, and well, thats the end of any serious consideration that they might otherwise get.

    Why bother talking to us if you are going to sabotage your own arguments like that?

  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    I used to think many things about Obama,. Now I’m with floyd, and believe he is a puppet, still a Marxist ideologue, but 95% puppet.

  24. Wayne says:

    Talking about a delusional piece.

    Obama enacted the Republican health care reform? Give me a break.

    Reagan pushed amnesty and tax increases?

    Please. Next you will claim it was the Democrats who were pushing to crack down on illegal immigrant employers, enforcing the border and cutting domestic discretionary spending. Also the Democrats only agreed to amnesty and tax increases in order to get those concessions.

    Talking about revisionist history.

  25. Wayne says:

    Next you will claim Carter was a far righter since he ordered military action.

  26. tom p says:

    Facts don’t matter…..

  27. Tano says:

    “Obama enacted the Republican health care reform? Give me a break.”

    Wayne, You should check out the Heritage Foundation’s proposals from the mid-nineties – endorsed at one point, I do believe, by Bob Dole.

    ‘Reagan pushed amnesty and tax increases? ”

    Obviously. Don’t tell me that you are unaware of this. The famous amnesty of 1986/? Who was president then? And tax increases? Do your research man….after the initial huge tax cuts, how many times did Reagan raise taxes in later years?

    Your incredulity here seems to indicate that maybe you know little of anything about what really goes on in the world, rather than just the standard talking points? Is that so?

  28. anjin-san says:

    Plunk..

    In other words, you can’t support your claim about Obama, so you are going to hide behind “Google it yourself”. Well my position is that you are a tool AND a lair. Feel free to shut me up – just provide a link to a credible source that shows us that the Obama administration is anti business by its own admission.

  29. Wayne says:

    If you get one Republican to support or vote for a proposal that makes it a bill (no link so we don’t know) regardless of how much other junk the Democrats threw in, it is a Republican bill?

    Where the Republicans shut out in writing the Bill? Yes. Did they get many of the amendments that they wanted in in? No. It was not a Republicans bill and it was opposed by Republicans by extremely large margin. Claiming that bill was the Republicans health care reform is an outright denier of reality.

    Yes Reagan signed bill with amnesty and tax increases that amounted to about half of the tax cuts that he “pushed” and received. However he was not the one “pushing” those provisions. It was the Democrats who were doing that.

    Reagan compromised so he could get some of the things he wanted out of those bills. I thought liberals wanted Republicans to be willing to compromise. Maybe they want them to compromise so they can claim it was a Republican pushing the liberal ideas.

    I forgot liberals can ignore any question or reality they choose. Did or did not the Democrats push those ideas? Did or did not Reagan do those things out of a compromised?

    If you don’t know the true answers to thoose questions then you are the one that is clueless about what really goes on in this world.

  30. steve says:

    ” Did or did not Reagan do those things out of a compromised?”

    According to Bartlett, who was there at the time, he raised taxes because of the huge deficits they were facing.

    Steve

  31. Pug says:

    Yes Reagan signed bill with amnesty and tax increases that amounted to about half of the tax cuts that he “pushed” and received.

    Reagan also signed the increase in payroll taxes that was passed in April 1986 to save Social Security. That bill raised the tax rate by almost 40% and put the cap on auto pilot so that it is still going up every year some 24 years later.

    That surely qualifies as the biggest tax increase in history and it ain’t even close.

  32. anjin-san says:

    Going off topic for a moment, over at foxnews.com, in the “features and faces” section the “Remembering Pearl Harbor” story is nestled in between “10 must return gadgets” and “2010’s most reviled celebs”.

    They are indeed Great Americans @ Fox…

  33. Wayne says:

    According to many inside the Reagan Administration, raising taxes were naughty words.
    Reagan and the Republicans tend to believe in cut spending to reduce deficits while Democrats tend to believe in raising taxes to do so. Sounds familiar? What usually happens is both side gives in a little in order to get some of what they want. Same thing happen under George H.W Bush Presidency.

    “Bush was dedicated to curbing the deficit, believing that America could not continue to be a leader in the world without doing so.[11] He began an effort to persuade the Democratic controlled Congress to act on the budget;[11] with Republicans believing that the best way was to cut government spending, and Democrats convinced that the only way would be to raise taxes, Bush faced problems when it came to consensus building.[11]
    In the wake of a struggle with Congress, Bush was forced by the Democratic majority to raise tax revenues;”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush

    To claim Reagan or Bush “pushed” for higher taxes is a lie. Just because they sign a bill with tax increases don’t mean they wanted it.