Metropolitik: What’s so liberal about Barack Obama?
The American right, tripping over itself to brand President Obama the most radically leftist black man since Jesus Christ himself, always misses the fact that Obama is just about as liberal as he is genetically black: About half, give or take.
Which half, you ask? Well, when you compare Obama to any prominent Republican politician, he comes off looking particularly progressive. In the same way that when you contrast the president’s human rights record with that of the Great Lord Of The Underworld, Satan himself, Obama appears downright godly.
It’s a consequence of the extreme polarization of politics that any time we criticize Republicans we are angrily accused, in reader letters and on www.metro.us, of working for Team Obama. But this is not a defense of Obama; quite the opposite, in fact. This is a defense of facts. To wit:
Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, is a repackaging of corporatist right-wing ideas (opposed only because it’s politically expedient for Republicans to tank any possible presidential successes); in passing it, Obama undermined actually progressive plans like single-payer and the public option.
His foreign policy re-upped the imperial excesses of the Bush era in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and elsewhere. At home, he’s expanded the Patriot Act and increased the reach of executive powers, claiming the right of the president to execute American citizens.
Obama packed his cabinet full of bank alums, pushing financial bailouts with few conditions; no one on Wall Street has been prosecuted. He has extended the Bush tax cuts, and nearly agreed to Republican proposals to seriously gut Medicare and other social programs. He doesn’t support gay marriage. He doesn’t back Occupy Wall Street and has moved to criminalize protest.
In sum, there is overwhelming evidence to conclude that Obama is anything but a liberal. He is, rather, a Democrat.