Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Centrist Duck Test

The Centrist Duck Test

A year-and-a-half ago, some folks thought I was bizarre for saying that Obama is an ideological centrist.

I was told back then that I was a little weird for talking about all of this "New Democrat" and "Third Way" centrist stuff, and comparing Obama's policies all of the time to the DLC's "Progresive Policy Institute" think tank policy memos.

It was relayed to me that Obama was "basically a liberal," but working within the constraints of the system in Washington, which he was sure to navigate masterfully...if I just gave him time to win 85-dimensional chess, and I withheld criticism that might turn fellow liberal Democrats into impetuous and impatient children incapable of recognizing what was good for them.

I was assured that this was the "pragmatic" way forward, and that it would all work out for the best. I was admonished that Obama surely must be a "progressive," and that, if I didn't recognize his policies as liberalism, it was because A) the secret liberalism couldn't be let out yet, lest Joe Lieberman vote against cloture, B) it was what he had to do, in order to enact some great New Deal 2.0 later, or C) it was the "most liberal" policy that could be accomplished by anyone, ever. In some extreme cases, it was edgily theorized the problem was D) that I must harbor some racist tendencies (Tim Wise's "With Friends Like These, Who Needs Glenn Beck: Racism and White Privilege on the Liberal-Left" ) that caused my misunderstanding of Obama.

And, patiently, over and over again, I replied that, if it looked like a centrist, and it walked like a centrist, and it quacked like a centrist, and its policies were straight out of the DLC's think tank, and its messaging was straight out of the New Democrat Network, and its appointed bureaucrats were Clinton-ites and Rubin-ites, and if, after it was finally elected to power after an extended primary season campaigning for the votes of a liberal Democratic base, it actually said "I am a centrist"...

...then Obama is probably a centrist.

As I can see from the commentary on this thread rebutting Michael Crowley (formerly a columnist at Third Way rag "The New Republic"), I may not have to argue that point quite as hard anymore.

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