Monday, April 16, 2012

If President Obama weren't a pragmatic moderate, he'd...

Some observers have pointed out how this is a race between moderates: a pragmatic moderate conservative pretending to be a hard-core right winger running against a pragmatic moderate liberal who the pragmatic moderate conservative is painting the pragmatic moderate liberal as a hard-core left winger.

However, I think movement Republicans are more worried about Romney's honesty than they need to be. Obviously he'll do whatever opinion polls of Republican voters tell him to do so he can get reelected, so as long as a majority of Republican voters want him to simulate a hard-core right winger he'll be happy to oblige. The man is nothing if not flexible.

In particular, since several moderate Supreme Court justices are highly likely to quit or die during the next two presidential terms, Romney will for sure nominate justices like Alito and Roberts, thus guaranteeing the outcome of all cases coming before the Court for the next twenty years--and enabling the Right to beat back liberal legislation even if Romney were followed by a highly liberal Democrat backed by a highly liberal Congress.

But he and his party are lying about Obama's left-winginesss. Lying of the bald-faced variety.

If Obama were a liberal ideologue, he'd have done the following things in his first term:

1. Signed an executive order banning discrimination against homosexuals in the military on his first day in office.

2. Signed an executive order ending enforcement of laws against illegal immigrants not accused of/convicted of felonies.

3. Insisted on healthcare reform being based on conversion to a single-payer system.

4. Campaigned vigorously for strict gun control laws.

5. Reduced government cooperation with religious institutions via "faith-based initiatives."

6. Campaigned to raise the gas tax to promote buying fuel-efficient vehicles.

7. Campaigned to overturn the anti-homosexual law misnamed the "Defense of Marriage Act."

8. Nominated far more liberal Supreme Court justices than Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (and would have made sure one of them was black). The number of times Sotomayor has recused herself (unlike Scalia, who never does) by itself proves her moderation.

9. He wouldn't have used all those Wall Street pros for his economic brain trust.

10. He would have pursued criminal prosecution of the Masters of the Universe who engineering the 2008 financial meltdown.

11. He would have campaigned against the Republicans in Congress from day one instead of consistently seeking compromises with them.

12. He would have gone for government takeover of bankrupt banks, manufacturers instead of bailing them out (for which none of them are the least bit grateful, of course).

13. He would have promptly withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan.

14. He would never have authorized drone-based assassination of innumerable Islamofascists in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

15. He would have bargained with the Somali pirates who captured an American vessel instead of authorizing the assassination of the pirates who were holding the captain.

16. When we located Osama Bin Ladin, he would have initiated extradition proceedings in Pakistan's legal system instead of sending in the SEALs to kill him.

17. A liberal President would never have made a bargain with the Greed Over Principles party that extended the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich, regardless of the terms of that bargain.

18. And if he were the right wing's stereotype of "liberal" he'd have no respect for the institution of marriage, and (like so many Republican politicians) he would have buzzed through several marriages by this point, and cheated on his wife repeatedly, and had relationships with other men as well, because, well, you know those liberals.....

Right wingers might say he didn't do any of these things because he knew these efforts would not have been successful for the Democratic Party overall or could have simply been defeated by Republicans in Congress, and that he would have done all these things if he thought he could have, and he will do such things in he's re-elected.

They can only say this if they don't understand what the word "pragmatic" means (and in general they don't, really); and if they can read Obama's mind, which they firmly believe they can. These people are nothing if not confident about their godlike powers of discernment; they'd stoutly deny any such thing, of course, but in the next breath continue telling you what Obama thinks and believes, regardless of what he's done and said.

As for the "second term" monster in the closet right wingers talk about (exploiting his remark to the Russians), of course all second term presidents are less constrained than they are in their first term. However, second term presidents with a Congress of the other party that can't / won't send him bills to sign can't do anything about their legislative proposals, regardless of which term they're in.

And it's extremely unlikely that Obama will get a friendly Congress. The diligent, comprehensive efforts of the GOP at the state level to suppress Democratic votes will see to that if nothing else; not to mention the billions their billionaire patrons can now spend on propaganda campaigns both above and below the belt.

Lastly, a second term President rarely wants to behave such as to guarantee that the next President will be of the other party. He's always working on his legacy. A legacy of putting the other party in power? No pragmatic president would risk that.

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