My Republican friends keep calling Obama a socialist. I keep asking them to provide proof of these socialist policies. And I keep saying that the Obama Administration is very moderate and in some cases, right of center. Thanks to Ezra Klien for writing story about the moderation of the current presidency.
Political scientist Keith Poole released a study that probably cheered the White House. According to Poole’s highly respected classification system, Obama is the most moderate Democratic president since World War II. Which raises a question: How can Obama simultaneously be one of the most divisive and most moderate presidents of the past century?
Republicans, however, can and should take partial credit for this. Obama is so moderate in part because the Republicans are so extreme. Politicians are ideological, of course, but they are also opportunistic. And the GOP, in closing ranks against almost every major initiative Obama has attempted, has taken away most of his opportunities to be truly liberal. The fight to get to 60 votes in the Senate has ensured, over and over, that Obama must aim his legislation at either the most conservative Democrats or the most moderate Republicans. In this, Obama has only been as liberal as Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and Republican Sen. Scott Brown have permitted him to be. And that’s not very liberal.
That’s left Obama as a moderate president in an immoderate time. For progressives, that moderation has been repeatedly frustrating. For conservatives, it’s been obscured by a caricature of the president as a free-enterprise-hating socialist. And for the White House, it’s been a calculated strategy. We’ll know in November whether it was the right one.