Monday, October 29, 2012

How liberal is Obama?

Not very, according to Eric Alterman.


B. Prokop said...

How liberal is Obama? He isn't - he's a dead center Middle-of-the-Roader. So was (and is) Clinton (both Clintons, actually).

Pelosi is a liberal. Dennis Kucinich was, as was Mondale. Ted Kennedy was a classic liberal.

Anthony Fleming said...

Seriously Bob? A "dead center Middle-of-the-Roader." Where do you get that from?

His economic policies? His bipartisan policies? Cause we all know how well he has actually tried to reach across the isle (contra Clinton). His social stances?

It's pretty tough to see Obama as a middle-of-the roader in any context. Before things looked good for his health care law, he promised planned parenthood that his first action as president would be to sign the freedom of choice act - which would have made abortion a fundamental right. Then, he passed one of the largest government overhauls in our nation (which became a tax) and had more bipartisan effort opposed to it than for it. In fact, Massachusetts, a blue state, voted in a Republican candidate to vote down the bill.

As a senator Obama stalled legislation that would protect infants from surviving a botched abortion. He is also the first president to endorse homosexual marriage. He has added more to the deficit than any previous president and even continued the Bush tax cuts (even for those making above 250,000 / year). is he a middle-of-the-roader now? If that is the case, the Romney is a true moderate/liberal: against abortion except in the case of rape and incest (the primary argument people use to preserve abortion), he was a candidate in a blue state, passed legislation that democrats signed off on, and even worked for his own national health care.

Anthony Fleming said...

In relation to the video. There are quite a few things that Obama has done that have seemed confounding to orthodox liberals. Obama did not grow up on the mainland during the time of the civil rights era. He grew up in Hawaii (was born only 2 years after it became a state), spent time in Indonesia, then came back to Hawaii. He has different influences than the standard orthodox liberal.

That, however, does not mean he is some moderate or "weak liberal." His policies and stances, several times over, have shown the opposite.

Anthony Fleming said...

^Last thing - If Obama is only partially "liberal" then Bush was a liberal spender as well.

Obama vs. Bush - Both big bail out guys, both spent more than the previous administrations (most of Bush's came from bail out), both promoted the same tax cuts (The Bush Tax Cuts which Obama renewed), Obama kept the Iraq war going for 3 years when he promised in his debates against Hillary it would end in 6 months - 3 years was close to Bush's time table.

While there are significant differences, they certainly look a lot alike in some respects. I guess Bush was a "middle-of-the-roader."

B. Prokop said...


Before I write another word, allow me to confirm that I am personally opposed to abortion.

But... when defining what "middle of the road" is, we're not talking about our views, but America's. Most polls show that a slim majority of the country is pro-choice. Therefore, a pro-life stance is decidedly not "middle of the road", but a partisan stance. You may favor that stance, but that does not make your views middle of the road.

Also, a majority of the USA either approves the health care bill or thinks it didn't go far enough. Unfortunately, many polls misleadingly lump together those who don't like the bill altogether along with those who felt it didn't go far enough (e.g., those in favor of a single payer system). Only a minority were unqualifiedly opposed to the legislation. That make's Obama's position the very definition of middle of the road, since he disappointed folks in both directions, and not just one.

As far as bipartisanship, remember it was the other side that said their top priority was to make him a one-term president, and then proceeded on a course of total non-cooperation. Your implied charge (of him not trying to reach across the aisle) is like blaming Poland for being invaded by Germany.

Crude said...

Most polls show that a slim majority of the country is pro-choice.

No, they do not.

So, by Bob's metric, Obama is an abortion extremist/partisan.

Also, a majority of the USA either approves the health care bill or thinks it didn't go far enough.

Again, no. A majority favors the repeal of Obamacare. So by Bob's metric, Obama - opposing the repeal - is, again, an extremist/partisan.

As far as bipartisanship, remember it was the other side that said their top priority was to make him a one-term president, and then proceeded on a course of total non-cooperation.

Accepting this bit of talking points for the sake of argument, how could they have cooperated with a president who, by your metric, was a partisan right out of the gates? ;)

Victor Reppert said...

Whether someone counts as pro-life or pro-choice depends on how these are defined. Someone can be morally pro-life and legally pro-choice. By some definitions, an anarchist who believed that abortion is murder (Bob and I knew someone like that) would qualify as pro-choice. Interestingly enough, conservatives often tell us that the government can't be going around righting all the wrongs in the world.

B. Prokop said...


You have time and again shown yourself on this blog to be impervious to rational thought on political matters. (I love you anyways. You're generally sane on other matters.) But "middle of the road" is neither a compliment nor an insult - it's just a statement of where one fits on the broad political spectrum. You shouldn't feel threatened by a person you disagree with politically being called such.

As far as I'm concerned, the last president we've had that I approved of unreservedly was Gerald Ford. I voted for him, but he lost to Carter. Though after Watergate, it's hard to see how any Republican could have won in '76.

Crude said...

You have time and again shown yourself on this blog to be impervious to rational thought on political matters.

Bob, what I did here is use your very own standard to evaluate Obama's stances. The difference between was that I actually bothered to go out and check up on data that you merely assumed existed.

You said that Obama's position was middle of the road specifically because the majority of the country identified as pro-choice. In my ferocious irrationality, I looked for statistics, and in a display of utter contempt for reason, I posted the results. By your own standards, Obama is a partisan.

You said that a majority of the country supported Obamacare. I investigated - no, the polls show that the majority of the country are opposed to that plan. They wanted it repealed. So again, he's a partisan.

Your reply to this is just to insult me and my rationality. Because, I don't know - if you do that, maybe you won't have to admit that you made a mistake, and accidentally demonstrated the opposite of what you intended to. I'm sure it either makes the polling data go away, or erases the standards you laid out.

What can I say but: whatever, Bob. Do this: write a check - say, 1000 dollars - to NARAL. I'm sure, in the labyrinth that makes up your political justifications, doing that is the most pro-life thing you could possibly do.


Interestingly enough, conservatives often tell us that the government can't be going around righting all the wrongs in the world.

I know. They believe murder should be illegal, and punishable by the state. Hypocrites that they are.

Crude said...

Anyway, I'll be taking a break from comments for quite a while, save for at my own little corner of the internet. But, as a parting gift, I'm going to show a picture of a middle-of-the-road, centrist act. Don't worry, it's just a drawing.

Here it is.

Justify the legality of this act in the following case:

Whenever the mother desires to procure such an act, for any reason whatsoever, no questions asked.

Bonus points if you can suggest defense of such legality is 'middle of the road', while opposing it is either a partisan or even extremist view.

Have fun!

Anthony Fleming said...

Victor, I think such a differentiation can only apply if you give a different standard of protection for the unborn vs. other human beings (like infants). If the unborn should be not valued the same way, then yes, two different stances make sense. For me, that doesn't fly.

Would you find it consistent if I was morally against infanticide but not "legally" against it? Could I be against murder but not legally against murder? The positions can be maintained, but not if you are looking for the legal system to consistently reflect morality - something which should be strived for in the legal system. Another example: could I be for equal treatment of blacks but not for such "legal" recognition? Most blacks would find such a stance abhorrent, and for good reason. It means you are willing to maintain an inconsistent "legal" stance while having a different moral stance.

I don't think that people who are legally pro-choice but morally pro-life are of the devil, I just think they are inconsistent.

Anthony Fleming said...

Bob, so if everyone in our nation were socialists, would that mean Obama was a conservative?

Most of our nation is not for the Affordable Care Act, but even if they were, it wouldn't make Obama a "Middle-Of-The-Roader." True, he has done a lot that has confused both sides - his influences are much different than the average liberal or conservative in office. The fact that he confuses both sides however, does not mean he is a "Middle-Of-The-Roader."

Even so, then are you prepared to admit that Bush was a moderate of some extant? If social stances don't count in political leanings (which is bogus - they count a lot in terms of being more authoritarian vs. libertarian) then I guess that means Bush is a moderate: who also spent a ton, who's tax cuts Obama renewed, and who's war Obama carried to completion, etc etc.

Victor Reppert said...

I take it all anarchists are against murder, but not legally against murder.

One thing that is never clearly stated in the abortion controversy, but underlies a lot of the discussion, is what I would call the Priority of Life-Rights Thesis. That is, while some rights can be overriden in order to protect other rights, when a life-right is at stake, that life-right always must be defended by the force of law, and all other rights (quality of life rights, privacy rights, etc), have to take a back seat to life rights. To some people, this is so obvious as to not even need argumentation or defense. Hence, once you call something murder, it is somehow logically incoherent to be against making it illegal.

As a philosopher, I see this as a loose end in the discussion that bothers me. How should it be defended, or should it?

Victor Reppert said...

Some people are against the Affordable Care Act, and want to repeal it---in favor of Single Payer Socialized Medicine.

B. Prokop said...


Bush II was neither liberal nor conservative, and he was most certainly not middle-of-the-road. The best term for his administration would probably be "Incoherent".

B. Prokop said...

By the way, I've been alive since the Truman administration. My personal rankings of all the presidents of my lifetime (from best to worst) would be as follows:

Johnson (domestically)
Bush Senior
Johnson (foreign policy)
Reagan/Carter (tied)
Bush Junior

I'll wait until the end of Obama's second term to rate him.

Anthony Fleming said...

Interesting responses.

Victor, on the anarchist problem. I find the comparison is flawed categorically. Unless we do not agree on a couple things: that the unborn are not the sort of "human life" that deserve social protections and that murder is not the sort of thing a government should legislate against. For the anarchist the government is not the sort of thing that should exist - whether they do right or not. Surely however, if given the choice between a government that will legislate to protect the unborn, and one that will not, the pro-life activist would probably choose the former.

My question is how one who does believe the unborn are human beings which deserve protections (pro-life) could advocate against legislating it given the assumption that social protections should exist for other human beings.

On the priority of rights thesis. I do not fully understand your position. Are you saying that the thesis is flawed (lower rights take backseat to right to life) based on other issues? Or that the language of murder is too strong when discussing priority of life issues. I think you may be making a strong point, I just want to fully understand it.

Anthony Fleming said...

Bob, On Bush vs. Obama comparisons. That seems like an escape on some obvious similarities.

Overall I like your list. But why is Reagan so far down there? He did some amazing things - like the Star Wars Initiative during the cold war etc. I wouldn't quite have Bush that far down, I think he did some good stuff and Clinton definitely helped contribute to some of the problems we have today - like his promoting of loan lifting from Fannie and Freddie.

I do like how Clinton reached across the isle though when he lost the house.

Now now Bob, while the Republican House have done some really stupid things to make Obama's time worse you cannot blame them completely for Obama's lack of bipartisan initiative - he had the house when he took office and still didn't reach across the isle. Like I said, there was more of a bipartisan vote against the health care law than for it.

Anthony Fleming said...

^By the way...there is a difference between not wanting to legislate against abortion and making promises to sign legislation to promote abortion - like the Freedom of Choice Act. I am glad he broke that promise, but it was a promise he made none-the-less. Not including the abortion support and funding in Affordable Care Act or fighting to keep Planned Parenthood funded by our tax dollars.

Even if the seemingly inconsistent position of, "I am Pro-Life but don't want it legislated" could fly, Obama's positions and policies are still problematic.

B. Prokop said...

I too really liked Reagan's championing of the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). It was the big reason I voted for him in '84. But I mainly put him so low because of his involvement with all the wars against the people in Central America, and most especially for his complicity in the murders of Jesuit priests in El Salvador and of other Catholic priests, brothers, and nuns across the region.