Quelle surprise. David Brook’s recent burbling, “Getting Obama Right“, seems to have garnered a lot of attention, to the point where several people sent it to me (approvingly, which is puzzling). Basically, Brooks makes the argument that Obama is “a center-left pragmatic reformer.” As John Aravosis notes, if that’s the case, then, given his shift rightward following his election, he must have been an honest-to-Intelligent-Designer socialist during the campaign. But what really bothered me about Brooks’ column (other than I was encouraged by people I respect to waste moments of my life I’ll never get back reading that shit) is that Obama, on the big issues, has neither been center-left or very pragmatic.
Brooks’ op-ed is a classic symptom of Compulsive Centrist Disorder. I do agree with Brooks in that I’ve always thought it silly to think Obama was a liberal Democrat–he is a liberal, a liberal Republican (currently, there are none left in Congress). As to the centrist-left moniker, Obama’s plan that he’s advocated for is very similar to Romneycare (which was developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation) and also Bob Dole’s 1994 plan. Whether it’s any good or not, it can’t be called centrist (if that word is to have any meaning).
Then consider Big Shitpile. The center-left position, I would argue, was mortgage cramdown, not the current regime of propping up zombie banks. Propping up zombie banks while hoping that a slow, but steady stream of middle class and lower-middle bankruptcies would help put their books in order isn’t centrist. And reappointing Bernanke, a conservative Republican who is worried about inflation rising to 2% (AAAIIIEEEEE!!!) while U3 unemployment is at 10% and U6 at nearly 18%, well, that’s not centrist either (a centrist would balance conservative inflation concerns with liberal unemployment concerns).
And if Obama is so ‘pragmatic’, why is his party going to get clobbered in 2010, and his agenda not passing? Surely, ‘pragmatism’ would have involved recognizing much earlier than the Republicans were never going to compromise.
Like most of what Brooks writes, it looks pretty, but is actually misinformative.