Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No country is center right by definition

More concern from liberal pundits about the push by Conservatives and the establishment punidtocracy to declare the US a 'center-right' nation.

The problem I have here is definitional. By international standards, Obama and 90% of the elected Democrats in Congress are a pretty conservative bunch. But the argument being made here is that Obama and other 'liberals' need to be cautious because they are to the left of the country and the country as a whole is 'center-right' relative to itself.

In other words, the country is to the right of the country.

Clearly this is a contradiction in terms which is a fairly clear sign that what is presented as conventional wisdom conceals an ulterior motive.

What is even more suspicious here is the fact that the pundits give Obama some advice that any political adviser knows is bad.

Any politician knows that Obama has to deliver change if he is going to hope to be re-elected in 2012. This was very clearly understood in the campaign which is the reason why there is only one big ticket commitment, universal healthcare. Obama has to start on healthcare on day one and deliver before the distractions of the mid-sessional elections. Obama's mandate will never be stronger than the day he takes office.

The idea that waiting until 2013 would be a good idea is so ridiculous that it is hard to understand how any expert observer could suggest it in good faith. The fact that the country is currently in a recession induced by the policies of market fundamentalism is simply irrelevant. The earliest legislation can be expected to pass is fall 2009. It will take at least a year to get the program up and running meaning that 2011 is the earliest date that the program is likely to be costing money, 2012 is more likely. And that is yet another reason to start work immediately.

Either the recession will be over by 2012 or we will be calling it a depression in which case there will be far more voters worried about the risk of losing their employment based healthcare than the national debt.

It is really hard to see how the pundits could give worse advice from a political perspective.

But the bigger failure of the punditocracy is that they consider the issues of politics to be who gets elected to what, not what is achieved. They do not consider for a moment the possibility that Obama might prefer to be the single term President that established universal healthcare rather than the two term President who competently managed the rebuilding after eight years of the incompetent Bush administration.


b said...

I think the definition of center implied here is along the axis between the positions of the two major parties. They're saying, "the people's opinions are closer to ours than to yours". This is, of course, equally absurd -- as how would you know other than by their expressed preferences in an election -- but not impossible by definition.

PHB said...

That makes just as little sense to me, it implies that there is some objective linear ordering of the political spectrum that is independent of the number of people holding those views.

It also implies that there is only one axis which people care about. I believe that the principle issue in the 2008 election was competence, not policy. Bush was an incompetent and McCain's bizarre opportunism in the campaign demonstrated that he only offered more of the same.

The fact is that Obama has somewhat underperformed the popularity of his party platform if anything. Universal healthcare has more support than Obama received.

If there was in fact a groundswell of support for right wing policies, then why was discussion of specific policy completely absent from McCain's platform? McCain's numbers did not add up and he didn't care.

Of course another interpretation of the claim that the US is a right wing country is that people would like to continue to receive large deficit-funded tax cuts and hope that the consequences never arrive.