Friday, May 15, 2009

On Categorizing Obama

Conservatives need to separate the intellectual desire to categorize the ideology of Barack Obama and the Washington Democrats from the electoral imperative that they be very cautious about doing so.

There's a resolution before the RNC to categorize the Democrat(ic) party as "The Democrat Socialist Party". How moronic. The Democrat/Democratic thing sorta tweaks Democrats and the media, so I find it sort of benignly amusing. But this Dem-Socialist thing is the wrong thing at the wrong time. No swing or independent voter is going to be "educated" by this, and Republicans ought to have learned by now that any public initiative that is borderline or half-baked will not work once it goes through the media grinder. To put this in terms Yogi Berra might approve, if it's fifty-fifty it probably won't work. This seems to be short of fifty-fifty.

On the other hand, the recent celebration of one hundred days of glory has prompted some renewed efforts among the punditry to categorize POTUS-44. Jim Geraghty's excellent NR piece, The Alinsky Administration, examines Obama's actions and discounts the idea that Obama is particularly ideological in favor of the idea that he is power-seeking in the Alinksy mode.

I can't argue with the idea that Obama's methods have been textbook Alinsky, or with the idea that he's essentially power-seeking. For an administration claiming it doesn't want to "run the banks", "run the car companies", etc., I'd say replacing CEOs, capping salaries, destroying the bankruptcy capital structure, setting advertising levels, and killing product lines looks an awful lot like "running" these businesses.

But Obama doesn't strike me as the type who seeks power merely for its own sake. The Clintonite "because I can" hedonistic power trip of interns and cigars is unlikely to repeat itself with this President. Obama seeks power in order to further his ideological agenda. That Obama has occasionally stopped short of ideological purity from time to time should not be an indication that the underlying ideology does not exist, but rather that he's the incrementalist neo-Fabian socialist I've always thought he was. Go as far as you can, and no further, re-setting the baseline at every step.

Furthermore, the ways in which Obama has disappointed his fellow partisans haven't been in ways that dissuade me from thinking he's a Fabian. His flip flops have mostly been on national security issues such as rendition, military tribunals, prisoner detention, and the sudden lack of interest in pulling out of Iraq. Frankly, these are all areas where virtually any historical progressive, socialist, or fascist leader would have approved of Obama's actions. (Wilson, FDR, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, etc.) I can't think of a single economic issue on which he's moderated.

Am I being hypocritical in calling Obama a socialist while saying the RNC shouldn't? I don't think so. The RNC is engaged in a fundamentally different activity than I am.

1 comment:

Samay said...

Economically, Obama completely flip-flopped by blaming the recession on a lack of regulatory oversight and then refusing to require oversight of the banks he's bailing out again and again.