Ezra Klein, as one of President Barack Obama most stalwart “liberal” defenders, is out with a column today admitting that on most important issues, Obama’s position has been that of what until recently would have been considered a moderate Republican. From the column entitled Obama revealed: A moderate Republican:
Perhaps this is just the logical endpoint of two years spent arguing over what Barack Obama is — or isn’t. Muslim. Socialist. Marxist. Anti-colonialist. Racial healer. We’ve obsessed over every answer except the right one: President Obama, if you look closely at his positions, is a moderate Republican of the early 1990s. And the Republican Party he’s facing has abandoned many of its best ideas in its effort to oppose him.
I find nothing wrong with Klein’s conclusion, and feel it has been evident for a long time. If you go issue by issue, from more offshore drilling, “consumer driven” health care reform, cap and trade, more military adventures, how to deal with the debt, warrantless wiretapping, onwards, Obama’s policies haven’t been that of progressives or even traditional Democrats, but are mainly warmed-over Republican proposals re-packaged to be sold to the left.
The thing that I find really fascinating about his column isn’t its content as much as its timing.
Right now is the traditional start of the Presidential primary season. If anyone was thinking of primarying a sitting president for failing to live up to the party’s principles, having one of his biggest supporters very publicly admit that the president has been acting like a member of the opposing party, would be big fuel for such an effort. It would be for hard for me to picture a similar column written by a supporter of Jimmy Carter at this time in 1979, or by a Gerald Ford supporter in 1975.
Whether it’s because of Obama’s strong support among African American Democratic primary voters, his huge fundraising advantage, the historical examples showing primarying a sitting president almost never works, or a combination of all three, the existence of this column speaks to how absolutely little Obama has to fear from a Democratic party challenge, so is free to behave accordingly.
With the rise of the Tea Party, many are wondering if a moderate Republican can ever stand a chance of winning the presidential primary. It turns out yes, a moderate Republican can easily win a presidential primary, as long as it is the Democratic Party primary.