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Obama Is a Republican

Back in 2008, Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich wrote an article [1] for this magazine making a conservative case for Barack Obama. While much of it was based on disgust with the warmongering and budgetary profligacy of the Republican Party under George W. Bush, which he expected to continue under 2008 Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, Bacevich thought Obama at least represented hope for ending the Iraq War and shrinking the national-security state.

I wrote a piece [2] for the New Republic soon afterward about the Obamacon phenomenon—prominent conservatives and Republicans who were openly supporting Obama. Many saw in him a classic conservative temperament: someone who avoided lofty rhetoric, an ambitious agenda, and a Utopian vision that would conflict with human nature, real-world barriers to radical reform, and the American system of government.

Among the Obamacons were Ken Duberstein [3], Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff; Charles Fried [4], Reagan’s solicitor general; Ken Adelman [5], director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency for Reagan; Jeffrey Hart [6], longtime senior editor of National Review; Colin Powell [7], Reagan’s national security adviser and secretary of state for George W. Bush; and Scott McClellan [8], Bush’s press secretary. There were many others as well.

According to exit polls [9] in 2008, Obama ended up with 20 percent of the conservative vote. Even in 2012 [10], after four years of relentless conservative attacks, he still got 17 percent of the conservative vote, with 11 percent of Tea Party supporters saying they cast their ballots for Obama.

They were not wrong. In my opinion, Obama has governed as a moderate conservative—essentially as what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP. He has been conservative to exactly the same degree that Richard Nixon basically governed as a moderate liberal, something no conservative would deny today. (Ultra-leftist Noam Chomsky recently called Nixon [11] “the last liberal president.”)

Here’s the proof:

Iraq/Afghanistan/ISIS

One of Obama’s first decisions after the election was to keep national-security policy essentially on automatic pilot from the Bush administration. He signaled this by announcing on November 25, 2008, that he planned to keep [12] Robert M. Gates on as secretary of defense. Arguably, Gates had more to do with determining Republican policy on foreign and defense policy between the two Bush presidents than any other individual, serving successively as deputy national security adviser in the White House, director of Central Intelligence, and secretary of defense.

Another early indication of Obama’s hawkishness was naming his rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state. During the campaign, Clinton ran well to his right on foreign policy, so much so that she earned the grudging endorsement of prominent neoconservatives such as Bill Kristol and David Brooks.

Obama, Kristol told the Washington Post [13] in August 2007, “is becoming the antiwar candidate, and Hillary Clinton is becoming the responsible Democrat who could become commander in chief in a post-9/11 world.” Writing in the New York Times [14] on February 5, 2008, Brooks praised Clinton for hanging tough on Iraq “through the dark days of 2005.”

Right-wing columnist Ann Coulter found Clinton more acceptable on national-security policy than even the eventual Republican nominee, Senator McCain. Clinton, Coulter told Fox’s Sean Hannity [15] on January 31, 2008, was “more conservative than he [McCain] is. I think she would be stronger in the war on terrorism.” Coulter even said she would campaign for Clinton over McCain in a general election match up.

After Obama named Clinton secretary of state, there was “a deep sigh” of relief among Republicans throughout Washington, according to reporting [16] by The Daily Beast’s John Batchelor. He noted that not a single Republican voiced any public criticism of her appointment.

By 2011, Republicans were so enamored with Clinton’s support for their policies that Dick Cheney even suggested [17] publicly that she run against Obama in 2012. The irony is that as secretary of state, Clinton was generally well to Obama’s left, according to Vali Nasr’s book The Dispensable Nation [18]. This may simply reflect her assumption of state’s historical role as the dovish voice in every administration. Or it could mean that Obama is far more hawkish than conservatives have given him credit for.

Although Obama followed through on George W. Bush’s commitment to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011, in 2014 he announced a new campaign [19] against ISIS, an Islamic militant group based in Syria and Iraq.

Stimulus/Deficit

With the economy collapsing, the first major issue confronting Obama in 2009 was some sort of economic stimulus. Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, whose academic work at the University of California, Berkeley, frequently focused on the Great Depression, estimated that the stimulus needed to be in the range of $1.8 trillion, according to Noam Scheiber’s book The Escape Artists [20].

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [21] was enacted in February 2009 with a gross cost of $816 billion. Although this legislation was passed without a single Republican vote, it is foolish to assume that the election of McCain would have resulted in savings of $816 billion. There is no doubt that he would have put forward a stimulus plan of roughly the same order of magnitude, but tilted more toward Republican priorities.

A Republican stimulus would undoubtedly have had more tax cuts and less spending, even though every serious study has shown that tax cuts are the least effective method of economic stimulus in a recession. Even so, tax cuts made up 35 percent of the budgetary cost of the stimulus bill—$291 billion—despite an estimate [22] from Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers that tax cuts barely raised the gross domestic product $1 for every $1 of tax cut. By contrast, $1 of government purchases raised GDP $1.55 for every $1 spent. Obama also extended the Bush tax cuts for two years in 2010.

It’s worth remembering as well that Bush did not exactly bequeath Obama a good fiscal hand. Fiscal year 2009 began on October 1, 2008, and one third of it was baked in the cake the day Obama took the oath of office. On January 7, 2009, the Congressional Budget Office projected [23] significant deficits without considering any Obama initiatives. It estimated a deficit of $1.186 trillion for 2009 with no change in policy. The Office of Management and Budget estimated [24] in November of that year that Bush-era policies, such as Medicare Part D, were responsible for more than half of projected deficits over the next decade.

Republicans give no credit to Obama for the significant deficit reduction that has occurred on his watch—just as they ignore the fact that Bush inherited an projected budget surplus of $5.6 trillion over the following decade, which he turned into an actual deficit of $6.1 trillion, according to a CBO study [25]—but the improvement is real.

Screenshot 2014-10-20 12.59.16 [26]

Republicans would have us believe that their tight-fisted approach to spending is what brought down the deficit. But in fact, Obama has been very conservative, fiscally, since day one, to the consternation of his own party [27]. According to reporting by the Washington Post [28] and New York Times [29], Obama actually endorsed much deeper cuts in spending and the deficit than did the Republicans during the 2011 budget negotiations, but Republicans walked away.

Obama’s economic conservatism extends to monetary policy as well. His Federal Reserve appointments have all been moderate to conservative, well within the economic mainstream. He even reappointed [30] Republican Ben Bernanke as chairman in 2009. Many liberals have faulted Obama [31] for not appointing board members willing to be more aggressive in using monetary policy to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment.

Obama’s other economic appointments, such as Larry Summers at the National Economic Council and Tim Geithner at Treasury, were also moderate to conservative. Summers served on the Council of Economic Advisers staff in Reagan’s White House. Geithner joined the Treasury during the Reagan administration and served throughout the George H.W. Bush administration.

Health Reform

Contrary to rants that Obama’s 2010 health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), is the most socialistic legislation in American history, the reality is that it is virtually textbook Republican health policy, with a pedigree from the Heritage Foundation and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, among others.

It’s important to remember that historically the left-Democratic approach to healthcare reform was always based on a fully government-run system such as Medicare or Medicaid. During debate on health reform in 2009, this approach was called “single payer,” with the government being the single payer. One benefit of this approach is cost control: the government could use its monopsony [32] buying power to force down prices just as Walmart does with its suppliers.

Conservatives wanted to avoid too much government control and were adamantly opposed to single-payer. But they recognized that certain problems required more than a pure free-market solution. One problem in particular is covering people with pre-existing conditions, one of the most popular [33] provisions in ACA. The difficulty is that people may wait until they get sick before buying insurance and then expect full coverage for their conditions. Obviously, this free-rider problem would bankrupt the health-insurance system unless there was a fix.

The conservative solution was the individual mandate—forcing people to buy private health insurance, with subsidies for the poor. This approach was first put forward by Heritage Foundation economist Stuart Butler in a 1989 paper, “A Framework for Reform,” published in a Heritage Foundation book, A National Health System for America [34]. In it, Butler said the number one element of a conservative health system was this: “Every resident of the U.S. must, by law, be enrolled in an adequate health care plan to cover major health costs.” He went on to say:

Under this arrangement, all households would be required to protect themselves from major medical costs by purchasing health insurance or enrolling in a prepaid health plan. The degree of financial protection can be debated, but the principle of mandatory family protection is central to a universal health care system in America.

In 1991, prominent conservative health economist Mark V. Pauley also endorsed the individual mandate as central to healthcare reform. In an article [35] in the journal Health Affairs, Pauley said:

All citizens should be required to obtain a basic level of health insurance. Not having health insurance imposes a risk of delaying medical care; it also may impose costs on others, because we as a society provide care to the uninsured. … Permitting individuals to remain uninsured results in inefficient use of medical care, inequity in the incidence of costs of uncompensated care, and tax-related distortions.

In 2004, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) endorsed an individual mandate in a speech to the National Press Club. “I believe higher-income Americans today do have a societal and personal responsibility to cover in some way themselves and their children,” he said. [36] Even libertarian Ron Bailey, writing in Reason, conceded the necessity of a mandate in a November 2004 article titled, “Mandatory Health Insurance Now [37]!” Said Bailey: “Why shouldn’t we require people who now get health care at the expense of the rest of us pay for their coverage themselves? … Mandatory health insurance would not be unlike the laws that require drivers to purchase auto insurance or pay into state-run risk pools.”

Among those enamored with the emerging conservative health reform based on an individual mandate was Mitt Romney, who was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002. In 2004, he put forward a state health reform plan to which he later added an individual mandate. As Romney explained [38] in June 2005, “No more ‘free riding,’ if you will, where an individual says: ‘I’m not going to pay, even though I can afford it. I’m not going to get insurance, even though I can afford it. I’m instead going to just show up and make the taxpayers pay for me’.”

The following month, Romney emphasized his point [39]: “We can’t have as a nation 40 million people—or, in my state, half a million—saying, ‘I don’t have insurance, and if I get sick, I want someone else to pay’.”

In 2006, Governor Romney signed the Massachusetts health reform into law, including the individual mandate. Defending his legislation in a Wall Street Journal article [40], he said:

I proposed that everyone must either purchase a product of their choice or demonstrate that they can pay for their own health care. It’s a personal responsibility principle.

Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian.

As late as 2008, Robert Moffitt of the Heritage Foundation was still defending the individual mandate as reasonable, non-ideological and nonpartisan in an article for the Harvard Health Policy Review [41]thisarticleappeared-novdec14 [42]

So what changed just a year later, when Obama put forward a health-reform plan that was almost a carbon copy of those previously endorsed by the Heritage Foundation, Mitt Romney, and other Republicans? The only thing is that it was now supported by a Democratic president that Republicans vowed to fight on every single issue, according to Robert Draper’s book Do Not Ask What Good We Do [43].

Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod later admitted that Romney’s Massachusetts plan was the “template” for Obama’s plan. “That work inspired our own health plan,” he said in 2011 [44]. But no one in the White House said so back in 2009. I once asked a senior Obama aide why. His answer was that once Republicans refused to negotiate on health reform and Obama had to win only with Democratic votes, it would have been counterproductive, politically, to point out the Obama plan’s Republican roots.

The left wing of the House Democratic caucus was dubious enough about Obama’s plan as it was, preferring a single-payer plan. Thus it was necessary for Obama to portray his plan as more liberal than it really was to get the Democratic votes needed for passage, which of course played right into the Republicans’ hands. But the reality is that ACA remains a very modest reform based on Republican and conservative ideas.

Other Rightward Policies 

Below are a few other issues on which Obama has consistently tilted rightward:

Drugs: Although it has become blindingly obvious that throwing people in jail for marijuana use is insane policy and a number of states have moved to decriminalize its use, Obama continued the harsh anti-drug policy [45] of previous administrations, and his Department of Justice continues to treat marijuana as a dangerous drug [46]. As Time put it [47] in 2012: “The Obama Administration is cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries and growers just as harshly as the Administration of George W. Bush did.”

National-security leaks: At least since Nixon, a hallmark of Republican administrations has been an obsession with leaks of unauthorized information, and pushing the envelope on government snooping. By all accounts, Obama’s penchant for secrecy and withholding information from the press [48] is on a par with the worst Republican offenders. Journalist Dan Froomkin charges [49] that Obama has essentially institutionalized George W. Bush’s policies. Nixon operative Roger Stone thinks Obama has actually gone beyond [50] what his old boss tried to do.

Race: I think almost everyone, including me, thought the election of our first black president would lead to new efforts to improve the dismal economic condition of African-Americans. In fact, Obama has seldom touched on the issue of race [51], and when he has he has emphasized the conservative themes [52] of responsibility and self-help. Even when Republicans have suppressed minority voting [53], in a grotesque campaign to fight nonexistent voter fraud [54], Obama has said and done nothing.

Gay marriage: Simply stating public support for gay marriage would seem to have been a no-brainer for Obama, but it took him two long years to speak out on the subject and only after being pressured to do so [55].

Corporate profits: Despite Republican harping about Obama being anti-business, corporate profits [56] and the stock market [57] have risen to record levels during his administration. Even those progressives who defend Obama against critics on the left concede that he has bent over backward to protect corporate profits. As Theda Skocpol and Lawrence Jacobs put it [58]: “In practice, [Obama] helped Wall Street avert financial catastrophe and furthered measures to support businesses and cater to mainstream public opinion. …  He has always done so through specific policies that protect and further opportunities for businesses to make profits.”

I think Cornel West nailed it when he recently charged [59] that Obama has never been a real progressive in the first place. “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit,” West said. “We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency.”

I don’t expect any conservatives to recognize the truth of Obama’s fundamental conservatism for at least a couple of decades—perhaps only after a real progressive presidency. In any case, today they are too invested in painting him as the devil incarnate in order to frighten grassroots Republicans into voting to keep Obama from confiscating all their guns [60], throwing them into FEMA re-education camps [61], and other nonsense that is believed by many Republicans [62]. But just as they eventually came to appreciate [63] Bill Clinton’s core conservatism, Republicans will someday see that Obama was no less conservative.

Bruce Bartlett is the author of The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform—Why We Need It and What It Will Take [64].

180 Comments (Open | Close)

180 Comments To "Obama Is a Republican"

#1 Comment By geronl On November 10, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

Nothing Obama has done has been in any way conservative, moderate or otherwise.

#2 Comment By bobloblaw On November 10, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

Obama doesnt have a conservative bone in his body. What has happened is that the House went GOP in 2010 and essentially stopped Obama’s legislative agenda. They stopped a second stimulus program and further spending increases.

The real test is what would Obama be like with a Democrat congress?

It is sort of like Clinton. His first two years were poor, but his remaining 6 were a success, because his domestic role was reduced to signing GOP bills.

#3 Comment By bobloblaw On November 10, 2014 @ 5:13 pm

Nixon on domestic policy was one of the most liberal presidents. In the last half of the 20th century, Id rate Nixon as behind only LBJ in liberalism. Well ahead of Ford or Carter.

#4 Comment By tbraton On November 10, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

“Well, let’s weigh that. Pres. Bush made no seceret of his intentions.”

Well, EliteComm, GWB did campaign in 2000 on (1) a humble foreign policy and (2) no “nation building,” and, immediately after being inaugurated, he started plotting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, according to his first Sec of Treas Paul O’Neil. Later in his Presidency, he admitted he disagreed with two decisions of his father: (1) withdrawing from Afghanistan after the Soviets pulled out and (2) not going to Baghdad in 1991. Had he made those revelations before the 2000 election, I would not have voted him even once, as I did for his father twice.

Getting to the main piece, I have only read the most recent comments, so I get the feel that most commentators find Bartlett’s comparison a bit odd. I believe the problem is that, for some reason, Bartlett believes that Nixon is the standard for Republican conservatism that Obama should be compared to. Nixon, of course, is the President who broadened the war in Vietnam while withdrawing troops, oversaw the creation of the EPA, instituted wage and price controls, endorsed affirmative action, used the Federal Reserve (through his loyal appointee Arthur Burns) to expand the money supply to ensure his reelection (and guaranteed the subsequent recession), all things that most conservatives identify as worthy conservative goals. As many commentators here have already concluded, utterly preposterous.

#5 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 11, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

Well, . . . .did for his father twice.”

As for Pres. Bush’s foreign policy aims, Assessing your comments needs only one response. Sure after 9/11, context matters.

As for Vietnam, Pres. Nixon did not expand a conflict that before he arrived in office already exceeded interaction the nation of South Vietnam borders. Just because the previous exec. ignored, didn’t or could address them does not make Pres. Nixon’s choice to give the enemy no quarter an expansion as the term is meant when applied to his bombing campaign and related actions, which eventually led the North to contract and finally give up in favor of peace.

EPA as we know it today doesn’t come close to the organization passed into la by Pres. Nixon, in size, scope or budget.

#6 Comment By tbraton On November 12, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

“As for Pres. Bush’s foreign policy aims, Assessing your comments needs only one response. Sure after 9/11, context matters.”

You missed my point. He started breaking his campaign promises immediately after assuming the Presidency, if one is to believe Paul O’Neil, his first Treasury Secretary, who appears to be a very honest man. At the first NSC meeting of his new administration, GWB brought up the matter of getting rid of Saddam Hussein. 9/11 merely provided the excuse and cover for doing something he wanted to do from the start, against a man who had no connection to 9/11, no connection to Al Qaeda and no weapons of mass destruction. As he subsequently admitted, GWB did not agree with his father’s decision to stop the Gulf War and believes we should have gone to Baghdad, which supports my view that 9/11 had little to do with the decision to invade Iraq.

“Well, . . . .did for his father twice.” ”

I am totally puzzled by your cryptic reference to my admission that I voted for GHWB twice and his son GWB only once. Care to amplify? Had GHWB won in 1992, the country might have been spared Bill Clinton—not to mention Hillary Clinton.

#7 Comment By Brandon Adamson On November 12, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

Obama as Nixon? Give me a break. I think we know what side Nixon would have taken in the Trayvon Martin and Ferguson controversies, the right side. I’m sure the founder of this magazine, Pat Buchanan, would be appalled by this article. Sure Nixon launched affirmative action, but that was right after the time when blacks were just being integrated and a could use a leg up. I highly doubt that Nixon would be in favor of what affirmative action has come to be 40 years later. I could just see him out there now giving a speech on transphobia in the military. Yeah, right.
Also you can’t compare Nixon’s geopolitical military expansions(which were strategically aimed at keeping the Soviet Union in check) with the mindless meddling in the internal affairs of insignificant ragtag third countries. Obama is much closer to Bush II. Both are empty suits imposing utterly incoherent and contradictory policies in almost all areas, many of which are implemented stubbornly against the objections of broad popular opinion. Is there anyone who doesn’t miss the old AmConMag?

#8 Comment By bri On November 13, 2014 @ 11:27 pm

The deficit listed above are the 6 biggest deficits in US fiscal history. Exactly, what credit is Obama due for deficit reduction?

#9 Comment By bri On November 13, 2014 @ 11:38 pm

Once you understand that the defict is a flow of debt the next question is to ask what happened to the stock of debt.

Year End Gov’t Debt held by Public Debt/GDP
2008 5,803,050 39.3%
2013 11,982,577 72.1%

What credit does Obama deserve doubling the National debt and the debt to GDP/ratio? In fact Obama has run up more debt then all the other administrations combined.

[65] Table 7.1

This article is a poor discussion about debt and deficits. Obama has been a complete failure on this count. That is clear from the numbers.

#10 Comment By bri On November 13, 2014 @ 11:48 pm

“every serious study has shown that tax cuts are the least effective method of economic stimulus in a recession.”

This statement is nonsense. Completely and utterly.Anyone who understands economics knows that Robert Barro is America’s foremost expert on fiscal policy. He certainly doesn’t agree with the above.

[66]

#11 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 14, 2014 @ 6:29 am

” 9/11 merely provided the excuse and cover for doing something he wanted to do from the start, against a man who had no connection to 9/11, no connection to Al Qaeda and no weapons of mass destruction. As he subsequently admitted, GWB did not agree with his father’s decision to stop the Gulf War and believes we should have gone to Baghdad, which supports my view that 9/11 had little to do with the decision to invade Iraq.”

I have news for you. Every administration examines options that might very well be in opposition to what they campaigned on. Since the end of the first gulf, The posture of the US has been one of animus. That does not mean they have broken campaign promises. That does not mean that their campaign promises (I use the term with caution). The point of the context comment is the point.

There is no question in y mind that Pres. Hussein could in no manner be held accountable for 9/11 in any manner. No such evidence existed. And what was brought forward as evidence was in very shorter found wanting. But minus 9/11 there could have been no excuse to do so. No 9/11 is the point. It provided the environment such to this day a good many US citizens believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11, with the following argument,

“Just because there’s no evidence doesn’t mean he didn’t do it.”

The environment of erring on the side of caution is still very prevalent in the US mind and it is dangerous in my view. Nonetheless, the open wound of 9/11 remains and is very powerful active and inactive thinking so powerful, that Sec Hilary Clinton and the current executive use it to force on issues of destabilizing the ME. Of course admin. examines policies that may require use of force. Maybe you are unaware that in the think tanks around the US there are plans to invade Russia, China, Iran, Syria, I would be surprised for the reinvasion of Europe. What one may desire to do does not a broken campaign promise make. Of course they brought the matter before the NSC, we had military ops in play, no doubt they also discussed Iran, Syria, Sudan, Russia, etc.

What is rarely included in the campaign promises, are the following: unless, but, and if. The realities of governance matter and in this case — context of 9/11 provided opportunity. And your comment makes the point — if not for 9/11 — well, there ya go.

The only value your advance would have is you contend one step further — that 9/11 was permitted and or aided by the admin. for the purpose of covering their desired plan to attack Iraq and Afghanistan. And while I am always open to such arguments, they have fallen short in making their case.

I have Read Mr. O’Neil’s book. I think his assessment is correct. I am not sure the point of noting what many felt was unfinished business makes Pres. Bush a liar. I am not sure those sentiments about his the first gulf were made before or after 9/11 but my acknowledged disagreement does not a broken campaign promise make.
_________________________________________

Hmmmm . . . I am not sure I noted anything cryptic or otherwise on the 1992 election assessment.

#12 Comment By Jamie Wilson On November 17, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

This show how progressive the Republican party has become. It’s more that our national Republican leadership has become more and more like Obama than the reverse.

#13 Comment By Fred Hoeck On November 18, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

I was schocked to see this article in TAC. I was a subscriber from the beginning when TAC was run by the Great Pat Buchanan. How can one say Obama is Conservative? only that there are even worse Democrats out there? The ACA had to be rammed down the people’s troats it would have been better to give the poor Health Insurance stamps. And as has been reaveled, the Government lied. President Nixon did good in getting us out of Vietnam. Clinton only changed after loosing Congress after first two years and he moved right. Obama has shown no such inclination.

I switched to Electronic Edition from print, now may drop that too. It’s is not Pat Buchanan’s TAC.

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 19, 2014 @ 6:55 am

“I switched to Electronic Edition from print, now may drop that too. It’s is not Pat Buchanan’s TAC.”

I understand.

#15 Comment By Brad LG On November 22, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

I was researching articles about Obama to show my ill informed “conservative” friends that Obama is as conservative if not more so than most Republican Presidents including GW Bush. Well he is. On defense, on taxes, on Gun Control…all the hot button issues the “Right” like to press on and there is significant proof but as usual You lemmings don’t believe what is fact but instead repeat your opinions until you believe them to be so. Would be be great if that worked. How is it you aren’t called the “Friends of Dorothy” (a sub culture name for the gay community) She also believed that all it took was to close her eyes and repeat “there’s no place like home” three times and she would find herself in Kansas. How’s it working for you? Are you there yet?

#16 Comment By Colin On November 23, 2014 @ 2:56 am

This author obviously doesn’t have the first understanding of what “conservatism” means. Nixon, for example, was not a conservative (arguably, neither was Reagan, except in rhetoric).

#17 Comment By Justyn A On December 30, 2014 @ 1:53 pm

“Even when Republicans have suppressed minority voting, in a grotesque campaign to fight nonexistent voter fraud, Obama has said and done nothing.”

The author exposed himself as a left wing radical with this single sentence.

#18 Comment By oldschool On January 6, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

You can keep telling them this (you know, plainly describing objective reality) until you are blue in the face. They still won’t believe it, even when it comes from someone on their side. Such is the current level of cartoonish delusion on the right…

#19 Comment By Jerry N. Wesner On January 13, 2015 @ 12:35 am

I agreed with virtually every word of this article. I’m a liberal/progressive Democrat who voted for Obama twice. The first time I thought his positions were similar to mine; the second, it was in preference to a candidate even further to the right. Obama spent his first two years moving to the right to compromise with Republicans, only to have them go further and further off the right edge to avoid agreement, even after he had adopted their original positions. Few if any current office-holding Republicans are in any sense conservative; Obama and H. Clinton are. My only representatives in government today are Sanders and Warren.

#20 Comment By Jared On January 22, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

At least he makes a really funny subject on SNL.

#21 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 19, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

Mr. Obama is as liberal on social issues like gay marriage as his corporate sponsors are. Neither he nor they are conservative, unless that’s redefined to mean “crony capitalist.”

At some point, neoliberal and neoconservative converge, with economics and militarism the touchstone of both, as they are for the President.

And truth be told, for the establishment wing of either party.

#22 Comment By Nil On June 19, 2015 @ 9:42 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of research into sports statistics of late, and I can’t help but notice some parallels to politics. Performance happens in public, is heavily scrutinized and can generally be compared to other people’s performance to some degree.

My biggest take away has been that, even when evidence is available, most people won’t avail themselves of it. They’d much rather assert what they think is true and will actively reject anything that contradicts their preconceived ideas, even if that means resorting to arguments and methods any reasonably clever highschooler would identify as flawed.

I have to imagine that there’s a political scientist somewhere who’s already set up some system for evaluating conservativeness as compared to liberalness. It’d be interesting to see. But, no matter how thorough and rigorous, I doubt that it would change the mind of most people here.

Look at comments like,

“This author obviously doesn’t have the first understanding of what “conservatism” means

I mean, whatever you think of Bartlett, if your starting point for dismissing him is that he doesn’t understand what conservatism means, despite his having served in two Republican administrations, including Reagan’s, you might want to re-evaluate because you’re simply making yourself look foolish.

#23 Comment By Roy Fassel On June 19, 2015 @ 10:05 pm

What Bartlett is saying is Obama is much like the GOP of the Ike, Nixon, George H.W. Bush era.

Republicans became unhinged when they started the Voodoo Economics policies during the Reagan Administration. When Reagan came into office, America was the largest creditor nation in the world. When Reagan left, America was the largest debtor nation in the world. And some people say that is conservative? This is insanity.

#24 Comment By Alex On November 2, 2015 @ 5:53 am

Yes, Obama is a republican to an extent but more like a pragmatic charisma one, I’ll sell you moderate liberalism but make it attractive to moderate conservatives.

Of course was GW conservative? Yes Obama is arguably a republican to an extent but not a conservative one.

He is sort of like a center-right RINO with some crony capitalism. Obama has also deported more illegal immigrants than bush.
His judges to the SC reflect liberalism, as well as his not defending laws he regards as unconstitional when even john ashcroft said he will defend abortion clinic trespass laws.

However, remember he tried to work the blue dogs, conservative democrats like ben nelson, of course you either want a conservative or a dead skunk, if you know it cost $100,000 to build a house with $50,000 over-runs why have a stimulus that not only wastes taxpayer money but has no long effects building part of the house.

Problem I see with republicans and some conservatives is that if your gonna use government money, I’d rather spend that extra 2%,cut waste,fraud, and other reforms, then cut it 5%,enact corporate tax loophole or rather crony capitalism (ethanol mandates,no tax increases but ones to the american consumer), and then republicans claim government doesn’t work. Defense spending should be cut dramatically, as conservatives more money for public or higher ed doesn’t mean better outcomes, I agree, so same with defense, where is the money going?

#25 Comment By marcos On November 25, 2015 @ 10:46 am

Just as Clinton kneed his base in the groin with NAFTA, throwing the Congress to the Republicans, Obama kneed his base in the groin with the ACA, throwing the Congress to the Republicans.

When the Democrat base is demoralized because the Democrat President rammed through a Republican health plan and the Republican base is energized based on race, economics and propaganda, then the electoral math is clear.

For all of bubba’s idiocy, at least he did not have the chance to flip on his base during a census year like Obama did. When the ACA was rammed through, then the 2010 elections went to the Republicans who gerrymandered the Democrats from historical majorities to permanent minority until the next census.

That’s Obama’s eleventy level chess super genius at work for you. The American political car only turns to the right. The only thing elections do is to determine how fast and sharp that turn will be. When Republicans win, Democrats throw up minor obstacles and the conservative pace of change is slow. When the Democrats win, they throw caution to the wind and govern like Republicans with no progressive check on their treason.

Remember, when the Tea Party arose, Republicans welcomed them into the fold and are now realizing their error. When Occupy Wall Street came onto the scene, big city Democrat mayors used the police to violently break up the encampments; the party closed ranks and excluded the populists.

The center of gravity amongst the two parties is so far right of center that there is really no option for anyone who is not conservative to vote anymore.

#26 Comment By leeuniverse On December 11, 2015 @ 12:20 pm

Wow…. This article is the very definition of “Cherry picking”.

Obama is Center/LEFT in actions (not in beliefs, total far left in beliefs). Which means he’s a Leftist, not a Republican or on the Right.
Just because he’s done some “centrist” things, thus there are things that are able to fall on the right, doesn’t make him on the right.

#27 Comment By Nicolas On March 10, 2016 @ 7:36 pm

Since, as Nicholas Eberstadt has noted, discretionary spending has been higher under Republican presidents than under Democrats since 1960, it is not true that Obama is a Republican.

#28 Comment By Robert J Walker On March 27, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

I’m a liberal. When Obama first ran in 2008, I look at his then sparse record and it was pretty clear that, economics-wise, he’s pretty much a Chicago school of fresh water economics type.

Just because Foxnews screams he’s a liberal doesn’t make it so.

Compare the banking bailout – bankers got to keep their extreme bonuses despite what they did – with the auto industry bailout – union member had big concessions rammed down their throats DESPITE years of prior concessions to try to save the industry.

BTW, the bank bailout was essential – our economy would have completely, COMPLETELY, collapsed with the banks credit and payment systems in operation – but is was handled abysmally by the Obama administration.

To understand the need for the bailouts, you have to be aware of (1) the rolls of bank corporate credit services, (2) the importance of their payment systems for our economy, and (3) the ‘lender of last resort’ function of central banking.

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#29 Comment By Dante_Fan On April 12, 2016 @ 8:12 pm

Obama’s foreign policy mantra is “Don’t do stupid ‘stuff'”

That has to be the most conservative utterance from a president in a long time. If only that had been his mantra for his domestic policy as well!

#30 Comment By John On August 3, 2017 @ 4:38 pm

Bartlett is fed up with Republicans so he manufactures statistics to support his delusion that Obama was a conservative. eg. No such thing as voter fraud. Without even looking for evidence it should be clear to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that the loose rules regarding identification and the out-of-date voter rolls are an invitation for abuse. However, there is in fact evidence.

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