Ruth Marcus Defends Obama

An interesting defense actually:

The notion that President Obama has lurched to the left since his inauguration and is governing as an unreconstructed liberal is bunk. . . . [T]he Obama Justice Department backstopped the Bush Justice Department's assertion of the state secrets privilege to block lawsuits challenging wiretapping and extraordinary rendition. The administration argued that prisoners in Afghanistan cannot challenge their detention in court. It leaned on the British government to keep evidence of alleged torture secret. "Hope is flickering," lamented Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

She does sort of call him a socialist on economic matters but salves the charge by saying it is what he promised during the campaign.

Speaking for me only

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    Only in the United States (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by OisforOpportunist on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:29:00 AM EST
    would a bourgeois, capitalist politician of the ilk of Obama be considered a "Socialist". This is nothing more than demagoguery on the part of very right wing (not fascist yet, though; let's keep our political lingo within the realm of reality please!) propagandists on the pay of extremely wealthy individuals and corporations who are capitalizing on the political and ideological ignorance of vast swaths of the American people in order to cover their very own dastardly agenda. They want to scare Americans with the boogeyman of "Socialism". There isn't even one atom of socialism in Obama. Heck, he is not even a bona fide, real, liberal, New Deal type Democrat!!!  If Obama is a Socialist then LBJ would have been and out and out, foaming at the mouth Bolshevik.

    This whole "Obama is a Socialist" is totally ridiculous.

    Where is Eugene V. Debs when we really need him?!? (I know, he's been dead for 82 years now but I can dream a little.)

    I was trying to think (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by ruffian on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:51:08 AM EST
    of a way to say that, but got distracted with, of all things, my job. You did a better job than I would have anyway.

    It is in the right's interests to paint Obama as the leftiest of liberals - they do it with every powerful Democrat, whether or not it is truthful. The press plays right along with them until the facts are distorted beyond recognition.

    Obama is no more a socialist, or even a leftist, than I am a golden retriever. His budget is slightly larger than Bush's. Last I checked, his health care plan consisted of making insurance affordable - since when is insurance socialism? That will be news to all of us.

    They just drive me nuts with this crap.


    Geez, Ruff (none / 0) (#5)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:58:39 AM EST
    I've been visualizing you as a golden retriever all this time.

    You're not far off! (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by ruffian on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:22:56 AM EST
    The real Ruffian is my golden retriever!

    So i guess that makes Obama (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:26:30 AM EST
    a socialist once removed in name only, which is about right.

    And I always visualize (none / 0) (#9)
    by ruffian on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:24:14 AM EST
    you as the Harry Potter Gryfandor emblem!

    I'm not sure what to make of what (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:46:22 AM EST
    Marcus has written.  I mean, I agree with her that he is not too liberal and he's moved to the right of center - too far, at least for my liking - I would prefer that he stop doing that and take a more liberal stance on many of the issues before us.  Marcus seems like she likes the Obama approach, given that her fears are that he isn't going to be able to hold those right-leaning position against Congressional pressure (emphasis mine):

    The most legitimate criticism of Obama is that his vision of shared sacrifice hasn't involved much sharing, and the hard choices he talks about remain to be made. It's an open question whether he's got the spine to stand up to congressional leaders. The omens -- dropping a plan to tackle Social Security reform and abdicating responsibility for the omnibus spending bill -- are not auspicious.

    And if President Obama, much like candidate Obama, has found it hard to "put an end to the politics that would divide a nation" -- well, some of us never considered that a change we much believed in.

    Really, I would much prefer that the screaming about Obama being too liberal have some basis in reality, because that would mean a much greater chance of getting the kind of real change we've only been able to fantasize about for far too long.

    As I told my conservative friend (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by ruffian on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:56:26 AM EST
    before the election - if Obama was as liberal as the conservatives were saying he was, I would be a much stronger supporter.

    I was never taken in by that hype or (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:06:24 AM EST
    by the whole "Hope" thing, and still cannot believe how many people were.

    No, if I had any hope at all, it was that the Democratic Congress might step up and force Obama to the left, but it's just an eensy bit, hardly enough to even warm one cockle of my heart.


    Anne (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:16:43 AM EST
    never bought into the fever - that group who said Obama =  all good, Clinton / McCain / Palin = all bad and evil.

    tens of millions weren't duped (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:11:13 PM EST
    It cost Obama's supporters hundreds of millions to get him his win. Without that huge amount of money, and the twisting of the Democratic party rules, he would not be where he is today.

    Go ahead, sher, slap a '1' on here.


    Speaking As An Obama Supporter (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by daring grace on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:16:48 PM EST
    I never saw Clinton as bad and would have supported her pretty comfortably had she been the nominee.

    I never saw Obama as great or even 'all good', but he seemed (and still does) a very good remedy for the excesses of the Bush administration.

    I never saw McCain/Palin as evil, but there's no doubt in my mind they would have been 'bad' for the country had they been elected.

    I know there were (are) Obama supporters who bring an ugly excessive zeal to the table, but that's not (and never was) most of us.


    Ha! (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:54:01 AM EST
    What O for Opportunist and the rest of you said, much more cogently than I could.

    Every time one of my Repugnican friends whines that Obama is a SOCIALIST, I sigh and say "Don't I frakking wish."

    And I'm getting more than a little worried about the rolling drumbeat to "reform" social security that I keep hearing.

    if it's reached the point (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by cpinva on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:57:55 AM EST
    that such as ruth marcus is "defending" him, perhaps pres. obama might want to completely rethink his entire approach, to everything.

    next thing you know, the insane maureen dowd will be penning odes to him.

    Not now (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:05:05 PM EST
    Dowd is still in love with Michelle's arms right now.

    His agenda? (1.00 / 0) (#33)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:17:31 PM EST
    What he says and does is always in conflict and always has been

    In my days we used to call this "lying."

    Well, (none / 0) (#6)
    by bocajeff on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:08:21 AM EST
    It depends on what your definitions of the political spectrum are.

    As of now, I think Obama is left of center on economic matters (hardly socialist, but to the left) and more centrist on foreign affairs.

    It's like how the left termed Bush as a fascist - he was to the right but hardly a facist in the Mussolini sense of the word...

    Shove the Overton Window left! (none / 0) (#19)
    by lambert on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:26:31 AM EST
    The "spectrum" is not static.

    On the spectrum as it is, and in the conventional wisdom as dispensed in Versailles, Obama may indeed be slightly left; consolidating and rationalizing Bush's authoritarian gains on executive power is a step back from rule by decree, after all.

    But the spectrum itself is wildly skewed right, after thirty years of Conservative dominance. And how much Versailles hates and fears the teensiest shift left is shown by the cries of "Socialist" at the mildest of reforms.


    I wish the media would (none / 0) (#22)
    by hairspray on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:02:30 PM EST
    promote some of the sucesses of countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark.  We could use more of their values.  If that is socialism, I'll take a little of that.

    Obama must be worried about (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:09:32 AM EST
    being called a "socialist."  Apparently after the NYT on board interview, he called back the reporter who asked him if he was one.  Washington Post, free subscription sign up required.

    I wonder if that's (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by cal1942 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:54:31 AM EST
    one MORE reason he's so timid.

    IF that's the case then Republicans have learned how to pull his chain.

    Contrast this to when FDR was called socialist, communist, fascist, etc.  He just kept on going on.

    Remarkable contrast.


    If you can find the article (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:00:28 AM EST
    at Washington Post, you may decide his tone reminds you of George W. Bush at times.  Being President is hard work!

    Which makes it all the more ironic (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:02:41 AM EST
    or puzzling or something that when asked whether his agenda might be too ambitious, he invoked the names of Lincoln, FDR and JFK (Clinton?  Not on the list).

    I think I would have preferred if he had just said that (1) all presidents come into office with a list of pressing and critical needs that must be addressed, and (2) he was elected in large part because the people knew what those needs were - and are - and believed he was the one who could best take them on.


    I wish (5.00 / 4) (#17)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:15:15 AM EST
    he would stop invoking Lincoln and FDR.  He is neither - he needs to be Obama.  The more you compare yourself to historical figures who have grown to mythic proportions, the more you will come up short.

    Invoking Lincoln Etc. (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by daring grace on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 04:07:41 PM EST
    Invoking past presidents who also faced significant challenges doesn't seem unreasonable to me. He's coming in to handle two wars and an economy that keeps getting compared with 'The Great Depression'. Not to mention all the other (slightly) less acute messes Bush has left in his wake.

    It seems to me the practical point for the comparison is to defend his agenda against a Greek chorus of hand wringing media and Republicans who were already calling it 'radical' (socialistic?) even before he took office.

    Besides, has he ever really compared HIMSELF to any of these guys? I've heard him make the comparison of his challenges with theirs. I've heard others make the comparison of HIM to THEM. And, in that, yeah I find it pretty nauseating and fulsome.


    He IS being Obama (none / 0) (#28)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:17:59 PM EST
    trying to distract the viewers from his actions while they research or recall what they learned about Lincoln, FDR, and now and then, JFK.

    He's all about image. The Republicans wanted him because the Clinton's are not shaken out of their focus on the people with the names and accusations that are thrown at them.


    Still happening: (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:30:28 PM EST

    I'm signing this "imperfect" bill but just you wait and see.  No more earmarks.


    Goes along with the meme (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:46:22 PM EST
    of "this is Bush's budget" (even though the Dems tabled it until after the election and debated / voted on it after Obama was elected.)

    "Well, this bill has lots of earmarks (and I had a lot when I was a Senator - including some that are in this particular bill), but it's not really mine, but next time I write a budget, I'm going to get tough."

    But hey - spin it if you got it!  The American people are sheep and will believe it!


    It's called... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Lacey on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:01:26 PM EST
    POLITICS. It's what politicians do, be it left, right, Democrat, Republican, Independent. They craft a message to get support and then put in place their policies. Don't know why this seems so surprising to some people. But hey, why not criticize politicians for being ... politicians.

    But Anne... (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Lacey on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:05:40 PM EST
    The last president to come into office facing such challenges was likely FDR, and before him Lincoln. I don't think anyone would invoke Clinton as a president who faced such monumentous problems upon assuming power. Besides, Obama doesn't say he's like those presidents. He tries to remind people that the country has faced greater challenges in the past and overcome them. It's a call for people to gain strength by looking back.

    It's just silly to suggest that (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:39:48 PM EST
    only Lincoln and FDR  have taken on the range of issues that Obama is, and that was really the question: not whether he has come into office with too much to deal with, but is he being too ambitious, trying to do too much at once?  

    And that was kind of my point - that all presidents have an ambitious agenda, and take on big things - that's what they are there to do.  And Obama would have done himself a favor to remind the media that that is so, but instead he'd rather put himself in the same class with FDR and Lincoln and JFK.  Yes, I get that he was looking to reference presidents who took on a lot and succeeded, but it seems like every time he gets into a tight spot he plays the Lincoln/FDR card - it's getting rather predictable.

    He also could have turned it around and asked the reporters which issue he should not be taking on - Iraq and Afghanistan?  The bank problems?  Health care?  Spending?  He could have reminded them that all of these things are connected to the economy as a whole, and failing to take a holistic and comprehensive approach to the problems could mean that we continue to circle the drain.  

    I guess what drives me batty is that instead of taking control of these questions and driving the discussion, he is always playing defense, and it sounds weak.


    Fascinating (none / 0) (#23)
    by samsguy18 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:04:43 PM EST
    The inordinate amount of time spent by the MSM trying to justify why Obama is not a socialist is fascinating!! His energy poilcy,healthcare policy and education policy screams socialism. Pay attention to his actions not his words. When he visited Canada although he was meeting with Prime Minister Harper ( a fiscal conservative ) he made a point to meet with an Opposition leader M Ignatieff ( a liberal socialist) at the airport before he returned to D.C.( this meeting was not officially on the agenda) Michael Ignatieff mentored Samantha Powers while teaching at Harvard As you recall she is never at a loss for words. While speaking at a seminar in Toronto she stated how Ignatieff and Obama could govern the world.(paraphrasing). Obama's agenda is not transparent. What he says and does is always in conflict and always has been.  

    Ignatieff as a liberal socialist?? (none / 0) (#27)
    by Lacey on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:17:16 PM EST
    Give me a break. As a born and bred Canadian living in this great white north, let me tell you that Ignatieff is no liberal socialist. He's to the left, but just barely. He's the leader of the Liberal Party, which has never been actually liberal but instead centre left. If he was a liberal socialist he would be leading our NDP party. Now they are closer to socialism. They'd likely be called communists in the US. And to even claim that Obama is a socialist and is promoting socialist policies shows how out of touch some are about what socialism even is.