Home/Daniel Larison/Obama As a “Centrist” Caretaker President

Obama As a “Centrist” Caretaker President

Scott Galupo makes a good observation:

There’s a possibility that Obama, if he indeed turns out to be a one-term president, will have been not so much catastrophic as consequence-free.

There is a lot of merit in thinking of Obama as a conventional “centrist” caretaker President. As I said back in 2008, that is good news only if you are satisfied with the quality of governance and policies that the U.S. has over the last decade:

If you have a high opinion of the Washington establishment and bipartisan consensus politics, Obama’s election should come as a relief. If you believe, as I do, that most of our policy failures stretching back beyond the last eight years are the product of a failed establishment and a bankrupt consensus, an Obama administration represents the perpetuation of a system that is fundamentally broken.

Looking back over Obama’s first term, that assessment seems to hold up fairly well. I didn’t appreciate at the time when I wrote this that partisan polarization would become even more intense than it had been in the Bush years. It should have been obvious that this would happen. Following the Bush years, it was inevitable that political acrimony and mistrust would be significant, and poor economic conditions added to this. Besides, this was the same thing that happened the last time that a Democrat was in the White House. I definitely underestimated the extent to which so many Republicans would remain committed to vindicating Bush’s disastrous record. Many of the political and policy failures attributed to Obama are not really specific to him, and most likely would have occurred had Hillary Clinton been the Democratic nominee in his place, because those failures are mostly the product of the bankrupt and deeply unpopular “centrism” that has done so much damage to the country.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment