Sunday, January 06, 2013

Neoliberalism and center-left politics: Obama's non-ideology ideology at the end of 2012

I've quoted several times now from President Obama's December 30 interview with David Gregory on Meet the Press because I think it represents an important statement from him of his political outlook and priorities at the moment.

This segment shows him defining his postpartisan perspective, how he would like to position his end-of-ideology ideology, which should be called neoliberalism, though our star pundits would choke if they had to explain what that means:

GREGORY: Mister President, as you look forward to a second term, you think about your legacy, you think about your goals, how frustrated are you at how hard it appears to be to get some of these things done? Very difficult relationship with Congress. People come up to me all the time and say, "Don't they realize, all of them, the president, Republicans and Democrats, how frustrated we all are?"

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think we're all frustrated. You know, the only thing I would-- I would caution against, David, is I think this notion of, "Well, both sides are just kind of unwilling to cooperate." And that's just not true. I mean if you look at the facts, what you have is a situation here where the Democratic Party, warts and all, and certainly me, warts and all, have consistently done our best to try to put country first. And to try to work with everybody involved to make sure that we've got an economy that grows, make sure that it works for everybody, make sure that we're keeping the country safe. And, you know, the-- the-- does the Democratic Party still have some knee jerk ideological positions and are there some folks in the Democratic Party who sometimes aren't reasonable? Of course. That-- that's true of every political party.

But generally if you look at how I've tried to govern over the last four years and how I'll continue to try to govern, I'm not driven by some ideological agenda. I’m a pretty practical guy and I just want to make sure that things work. And-- and one of the nice things about never having another election again, I will never campaign again, is, you know, I think you can rest assure that all I care about is making sure that I leave behind an America that is stronger, more prosperous, you know, more stable, more secure than it was when I-- I came into office and-- and that's going to continue to drive me. And I-- I think that the issue that we're dealing with right now in the fiscal cliff is a prime example of it. What I'm arguing for are maintaining tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. I don't think anybody would consider that some liberal left wing agenda. That’s some-- that-- that used to be considered a pretty mainstream Republican agenda.

And it's something that we can accomplish today if we simply allow for a vote in the Senate and in the House to get it done. The fact that it's not happening is an indication of, you know, how far certain factions inside the Republican Party have gone where they-- they can't even accept what used to be considered centrist, mainstream positions on these issues.

Now I re-- I remain optimistic, I'm just a congenital optimist, that eventually people kind of see the light. You know, Winston Churchill used to say that we Americans, you know, we-- we try every other option before we finally do the right thing. After everything else is exhausted we eventually do the right thing and I-- I think that that's true for Congress as well. And-- and I think it's also important for Americans to remember that politics has always been messy. People have been asking me a lot about the-- the film Lincoln and, you know...

Even when he's arguing against the both-parties-are-to-blame position, he's makes a point of bitching first about about his own base! He brags about not being ideological and not having a "liberal left wing agenda," even though the Republicans are going to call whatever he does in domestic affairs just that. He's not trying to build national support for a distinctly liberal or Democratic agenda, but for "a pretty mainstream Republican" one, at least on economic policies.

Which makes sense, because he sees his economic agenda as essentially a moderate Republican one. And that's a bad thing.

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