Is Obama a "Stealth Candidate"? Is America Now a Center-Left Country?

At Fox News, there's an interesting (read: tedious but what else is on?) debate about whether this election, which seems to be trending big for the Dems all around the horn, is a coff-coff game-changer in American politics. Are we moving, ask the pundits there, from a center-right country to a center-left country?

Fortune's Nina Easton says it's the latter and that the election (so far) is a repudiation of laissez-faire economics, deregulation, blah blah blah; she also says that Obama has told her he's a pragmatist, not an ideologue, and that he's surrounding himself now with centrist Dems such as Robert Rubin and old warhorses such as former Fed head Paul Volcker. Her take (which is at odds with her general take on the meaning of the election) is that Obama isn't going to mess with NAFTA or basic free trade policy.

Juan Williams argues that we don't even know Obama's stance on card check, which would suspend secret ballots for union votes, or any number of other issues. Fred Barnes argues that the Republicans are losing big but not because anything or anybody is changing in the country. Go figure.

I suspect that the toughest thing to figure out about this election is simply the fact that, with the possible exception of single-payer healthcare, virtually every scare scenario you can generate about Obama (many with good reason) has already been put into place by the current GOP administration, typically with the enthusiastic aid of Republicans in Congress. Whether we're talking about the Medicare prescription drug benefit or the war in the Iraq or the federalizing of education policy or the PATRIOT Act (which recycled Janet Reno's law enforcement wish list) or trade sanctions or regulatory overload or the freaking bailout, the Bush admin has been there and done that.

Which isn't to say that Obama won't be terrible in his own particular way, especially since Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will stand taller come January. But he's really going to have work at it to distinguish himself from his predecessor.

Hit & Runners, what worries you most about the new day a-dawnin' in America?

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  • SIV||

    The Republicans of the last 8 years didn't give us any more gun control.The Democrats won't be able to resist even though it isn't in their political interest.

  • ||

    The libs pushing thru everything they can in the first 2 years to get people too dependent to ever vote them out. Thanks, GWB.

  • ||

    The Europeanization of America worries me. More and more the liberal leadership looks to Europe for ideas on everything from health care to gun control to economic socialism. America is not and should emulate Europe. It is our freedom and differing ideology that has made this country great. Now as we creep ever closer to being Euorpe in the New World, I fear for the legacy the Founding Fathers left for us to carry on.

  • ||

    I think the fact that no idea to roll back government programs is going to be taken seriously or, at best, looked at suspiciously. That said, I'm not that worried. As my grandmother would say, out of the hottest fire comes the strongest steel. Also, I think having an open and honest debate about socialism (not one based in commies-got-nukes-pointed-at-us) on its merits is ultimately a good thing. If we can't win that debate, we deserve to be in the wild.

  • ||

    Worry?
    Hit & Runners make Alfred E. Newman seem like a worry-wart with nervous bowel syndrome.

    Slap-happy days are here again! Let the good times roll!

  • ||

    My blood pressure

  • ||

    Benjamin: I'm not surprised. After all, the Democratic party helped build a large amount of the political institutions over there. If anything, it's a homecoming for political ideas that couldn't be tried 50 years ago because of the Cold War.

  • ||

    Hit & Runners, what worries you most about the new day a-dawnin' in America?

    My wallet and my bank account.

  • anarch||

    what worries you most about the new day a-dawnin' in America?


    So many options to choose from! What a Land of Unlimited Opportunity!

    Oh, wait. That's what's changing.

  • ||

    Putting self-righteous activists on the Supreme Court is my biggest fear because it's the hardest to undo and impacts me in innumerable ways, not just economic.

  • Kaiser||

    ...he Bush admin has been there and done that.



    Just because it has been done before doesn't make it OK to do it again. I guess what worries me the most is the undivided government. If we learned anything from the Bush years it's that undivided government is a terrible thing. Whether they intend to or not, they just feed each other to do really stupid things.

  • ||

    My biggest worry is still that we'll get mired in more wars.

    I'm actually cautiously optimistic that the federal deficit will decrease under Obama. When Clinton was first elected, I was predicting disastrous budget deficits, but at the end of his second term we had large surpluses. Perhaps Obama can get the democrats in congress to be a little more serious about the deficit... you know, Nixon and China and all that.

  • Bingo||

    The country is against Bush-style "capitalism". The worst thing that has happened to the libertarian movement was GWB paying lipservice to a humble foreign policy and limited government in 2000... and then proceeding to do the exact opposite. Fuck the Republican Party.

  • ||

    I agree Bush did so much to place the country at a new low that it seems hard to go any lower. But I think you can't understate the thrills that await us with monopolized government "medicine" with all the care and love you get at your local DMV. And the joys that await us with mandatory national service where we get to relive the experience of slavery for a new even more cruel master. As our nation accelerates to the wonderous world of 1984 (the the literary dystopia, not the year) no doubt the last realization of many as we're marched to the Gulag will be the truth that government PRIMARILY benefits those who govern.

    Britain, we owe you an apology. The last 16 years prove we do LOVE tyrants!

  • ||

    I dont know if I'd worry too much about the supreme court. The oldest fogies in that court are also its most liberal members. Stevens could die tomorrow.

  • Bingo||

    On that note, I don't know if it's ever a good idea to trust a politician. A lot of Obama supporters are going to be disappointed after this election because he doesn't make rainbows come out of their asses while it rains milk and honey. The most vital thing we can do to support liberty is get rid of this idea that a single individual such as the president should/does have the power to impact millions of lives. Hero-worship in adults is sickening.

  • SIV||

    I'm sure I'll regret saying this but the single-payer "healthcare" doesn't scare me.
    It is inevitable no matter who is in power.
    Our current system is in no way free market.
    If private fee for service alternatives are still an option there may be a tiny ray of hope for something different.Taking the "issue" off the table will free up some anxious voters to other pro-liberty choices.
    More portability will provide more employment choices for people. If all goes well(it won't) there might be a silver lining to this "positive liberty".
    Maybe there will be no incentive to produce the drug or treatment that will save the next Hitler or the Anti-Christ:)

    *disclaimer: I favor pure free market healthcare with legalized drugs, open immigration of Doctors, Faith Healers and Witch Doctors and no professional licensure.

  • ||

    "The last 16 years prove we do LOVE tyrants!"

    You mean:

    The last 16 years prove we DO love tyrants!

    I don't understand why emphasis accents are so difficult for people.

  • Bingo||

    Great job SIV, same argument that the Republicans had for Medicare expansion! Any other GOP party lines you would like to apply towards socialist policies?

  • Alan Vanneman||

    My biggest worry is that Obama will declare free doughnuts for everyone forever, which is what I believe they have in France, and Katie M-W will blog nonstop about it, like forever. Worst of all, I don't eat doughnuts!

  • anarch||

    I favor pure free market healthcare with legalized drugs, open immigration of Doctors, Faith Healers and Witch Doctors



    Obama is himself the last four of the five on your list.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Hit & Runners, what worries you most about the new day a-dawnin' in America?



    Day? Dawn? Probably the zombie uprising worries me most.

  • Can I say that anymore?||

    I don't understand why emphasis accents are so difficult for people.

    It's a black thing. You wouldn't understand.

  • ||

    That didn't take long.

    (FreeRepublic thread titled "Dissent is Patriotic").

  • Hogan||

    the courts, continued unrestrained spending, a potential bay of pigs/eagle claw/somalia style "der how do you use this fancy military toy" debacle, and the unbearable smugness of my intolerable friends.

    on the plus side, i hear we've transcended the race issue.

  • ||

    "The most vital thing we can do to support liberty is get rid of this idea that a single individual such as the president should/does have the power to impact millions of lives. Hero-worship in adults is sickening."

    Ding ding ding! This is exactly right. Nearly everything about this election, on both sides of the aisle, operated on the (mostly) unquestioned premise that the presidency is some sort of omnipotent role. This isn't new, of course -- Gene Healy wrote a long book about the topic -- but this time it was more flagrant than ever.

    We have vested far too much ostensible power into the presidency, and yes: This is perhaps the most dangerous of the stealth threats to liberty.

    Reason itself bought into the whole thing, treating the presidential election as if It Really, Really Matters A Whole, Big Bunch. It would have been one thing if this had been done in a defensive sense -- treating it as important simply because the importance assigned to it by everyone else was recognized as a threat. But it wasn't. It was treated as important, per se, tacitly ceding the fundamental premise of the whole thing.

    And so that's one thing we can do to promote liberty: start convincing our fellow Americans that the presidency isn't supposed to be a big deal, and that exalting a single human being like this is kind of... cheesy, really.

  • tarran||

    To be honest, it's going to take something like seasteading to bring freedom into vogue again. Without it, the incentives are all in favor of expanded government power.

    The good news though, is that the next 8 years will thoroughly discredit the Keynesianism of the Democrats. The New Deal II will have pretty much the same effect as the New Deal I, depending on how vigorously it is pursued.

    Unlike the FDR administration, the Obama administration will have a tougher time eliminating opposition from the media.

    If we stick to our guns, and point out the likely outcomes of the various cockamamie policies that our new masters try to impose, we will come out of the wilderness stronger than before.

    In 1960, what we call libertarianism was all but dead. You could probably fit all the thinkers in a high school basketball court. We didn't even rate a footnote in public policy debates.

    Now we get blamed for Bush's failures in Iraq, the meltdown of the economy, the failure of the drug war etc.

    If Ludwig von Mises could survive the war, how can we do anything but thrive in the much more intellectually friendly environment we live in today.

    There is a great passage from V for Vendetta:

    "Involuntary order breeds dissatisfaction, mother of disorder, parent of the guillotine. Authoritarian societies are like formation skating; intricate, mechanically precise and above all, precarious. "



    Sooner or later, the skaters will stumble, the formation will be disrupted, and we will be there pointing out that it was inevitable. And people will decide that the formation is neither necessary or desirable.

  • Hogan||

    it'll be great to never hear about THAT again

  • gmatts||

    "Fred Barnes argues that the Republicans are losing big but not because anything or anybody is changing in the country."

    I saw that exchange as well and it seems that Fred Barnes has already lost his mind over the inevitability of an Obama presidency. He is fidgetting even more than usual as he sits at the desk.
    Bill Kristol looks like someone just killed his dog and Brit Hume might be drunk.

  • Bingo||

    jsh: No shit, just refreshed the Corner at NRO and those assholes are already paying lipservice to individual liberties again. Thanks again for the last 8 years of expanded liberties and smaller government, you pricks.

  • Franklin Harris||

    That didn't take long.

    (FreeRepublic thread titled "Dissent is Patriotic").



    Irony or hypocrisy? You make the call.

  • SIV||

    Bingo,

    Really? The GOP thought medicare expansion might prevent future doctors from saving the next Hitler or the Anti-Christ? Great minds think alike!

    It is currently illegal for me to chose my provider,my treatment, my medication or even an insurance product that I would like. As I stated the single-payer will be worse.It just doesn't scare me--yet.

  • ||

    Nada. I'll leave and take my money else where.

  • Pepe||

    Obama is winning big. But only in the electoral college sense. The popular vote is relatively close just as it has been the last several elections.

    The Democrats big night has as much to with the winner take all nature of our system and the unpopularity of the current president as it does with any real ideological shift. Every elected office in the nation can be won, theoretically, by just one vote.

    The other 40 something percent of voters in the country are still part of its ideological makeup, regardless of the lack of success of their candidate.

  • Franklin Harris||

    No shit, just refreshed the Corner at NRO and those assholes are already paying lipservice to individual liberties again.



    Power-hungry creeps who are out of power always care about individual liberties $mdash; their own.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Crap. I screwed up my - code.

  • SIV||

    I do fear the Judicial appointments.
    I fear all the stuff which will make the liberaltarians realize how horribly wrong they were.

  • Bingo||

    F. Harris - ahh, the day-job rearing its ugly head at night!

    SIV - who the fuck cares, half of the liberal judges on the Supreme Court were appointed by Republican presidents. It's not like Kelo was hanging on the brink because of Dem. appointed judges.

  • ||

    "Fred Barnes argues that the Republicans are losing big but not because anything or anybody is changing in the country."

    Just to play devil's advocate... He could be right. It's intellectually satisfying (and fun) to extrapolate big-picture stuff from an election. But isn't it possible that an election tally is merely a snapshot of how a bunch of individuals happened to cast votes during an arbitrary weekday in November, based on assorted imagery they'd been exposed to the past few months?

    Sure -- some elections might symbolize broader trends and shifts. But do they always have to? Can't it sometimes really be about stuff like "a lot of people thought that one guy was too old and a lot of people liked the way that other dude seemed self-assured in those debates"?

  • ||

    The next 4 years were going to be bad regardless of which major party candidate won this year. More government, more control.

    I find it interesting that neither of the news web sites I've been to are showing any 3rd party results, at least where it can be easily seen.

    Harumph, the all-powerful Obama can probably help you out with that stick up your ass.

  • ||

    Harumph, the all-powerful Obama can probably help you out with that stick up your ass.

    Well, at least I'll have one less stick up my ass. You, alas, will still be a bad writer who doesn't know how to properly convey emphasis in a sentence.

  • ||

    The New Deal was a total disaster, but there is no lack of people who would love to bring it back. It took the country two generations to have some bit of push back against the New Deal.

    If we have a New Deal II, its miserable failure will entrench it forever. The worse it is, the longer it will stay.

  • SxCx||

    Unblinking hokiness, like this viewer letter read on CBC:

    "Parks sat so King could stand. King stood so Obama could run. And Obama ran, so all of us could fly."

    It will get worse. Starting with tomorrow.

  • Bingo||

    And Harumph is already starting with the ad-hominem attacks. Looks like the GOP has their playbook in full force!

  • Superfly||

    SxCx, so?

  • ||

    Are we out of Iraq yet? That would be nice.

    I'm worried Obama procrastinates leaving for the sake of his domestic agenda until his administration thinks leaving without "Victory!" headlines is a bad idea for political reasons.

  • Hogan||

    "Parks sat so King could stand. King stood so Obama could run. And Obama ran, so all of us could fly."

    lord god. see, it's stuff like that that makes me want to explode.

  • SxCx||

    Laughter hurts productivity. And that's the last thing we need in thesetougheconomictimes.

  • SIV||

    Bingo,

    None of the Conservative sitting Judges were appointed by Democrat Presidents

  • ||

    "Parks sat so King could stand. King stood so Obama could run. And Obama ran, so all of us could fly."

    Christ on a stick, that's fucking cheesy.

    Who are these lame nitwits who seek inspiration from a fucking POLITICIAN? Are these people really that psychologically empty?

    I'm starting to think there's some real merit to the right's meme about a godless society.

  • SxCx||

    lord god. see, it's stuff like that that makes me want to explode.

    Just shed all sanity and you'll be fine.

  • ||

    And Obama ran, so all of us could fly.

    Obama favors further airline deregulation? Yipee!

  • Franklin Harris||

    F. Harris - ahh, the day-job rearing its ugly head at night!



    My day job is a night job. I'm in the office crunching vote totals and waiting to edit election stories as soon as the reporters get back from the field.

    By the way, it looks like Alabama will be +1 for the Democrats in the U.S. House. Dems leading in the two open House seats, one of which had been held by a Dem. and the other by a Rep.

  • ||

    "Parks sat so King could stand. King stood so Obama could run. And Obama ran, so all of us could fly."

    OK, now I've truly lost all hope!

    It's midnight in America!

  • SxCx||

    That's actually one of the funniest things I've ever seen. But I'm delirious, so...

  • Franklin Harris||

    "Parks sat so King could stand. King stood so Obama could run. And Obama ran, so all of us could fly."



    Those Obama supporters are really setting themselves up for disappointment when Obama fails to repeal the Law of Gravity.

  • Andy||

    The real question is, "what part of an Obama administration with Dem majorities would be the hardest to get rid of?"

    So ask what part of Bush's legacy will be hardest to get rid of? The war? Increased entitlements? Alito and Roberts?

    Of course the first part assumes that Republicans (or someone else) will become competent enough to win an election or two in the future.

    If not, Costa Rica looks nice. Any other ideas?

  • MJ||

    "Juan Williams argues that we don't even know Obama's stance on card check, which would suspend secret ballots for union votes, or any number of other issues."

    Hey, Juan, Obama's been running for President for what? About two years now? You don't know what his positions are on basic issues? You are a political pundit right? Is not figuring that sort of thing out kind of your job?

  • ||

    It is funny, but a little too creepy for me. I don't recall ever seeing so much reverence for a politician before. It's very Pyongyang. I almost expect to wake up tomorrow and find giant pictures of Obama all over the country.

  • Scott66||

    What worries me? Billions of dollars being poured into leftist organizations whose goal it is to destroy or alter institutions that should be protecting individualism and capitalism. Examples of this graft would be leftist departments in university, NOW, the ABA, ACORN, and the press.

  • ||

    I don't recall ever seeing so much reverence for a politician before.

    You must not have been around when JFK was in office - or shortly after he was assassinated.

  • ||

    Robert Rubin back as Treasury secretary would be a great move.

  • ||

    I love it how "libertarians" bitch about Bush's drug benefit deal, while ignoring that it was the least worst option possible.

    People were clamoring for something about drug prices (which ain't cheap). It was either that or the government simply fixing prices (like in pretty much every other country in the world). Which would mean no more drug research, since companies would no longer have any incentive.

    That's the trouble with the libertarians - full of high ideals that don't work out in practice. Like open borders. Or letting terrorists caught on battlefields go (to where, exactly?)

  • ||

    Have to agree with supreme court justice appointments. My greatest problem with O is his take that the Constitution is a flawed document because it restricts government power rather than enhance it.
    Do they have the brass to pull a Constutional Congress to amend?

  • Kaiser||

    Just for fun I posted this on another thread but...

    For anyone interested in the 2004 election results for third party vs 2008 go here for 2004 and here for 2008.

    On a side note I added up all of the third party candidates from 2004 and came up with 1,126,404 total votes. (By all I mean Nader, Libertarian, Constitution, and Green Parties) We will see what this year has in store.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    You must not have been around when JFK was in office - or shortly after he was assassinated.

    He was God, SA. At least until Clapton came along.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Dude, America has been a center left country for a long dam time. There has been no shift back and forth just a steady push left. JFK was a Reagan Democrat for Christ's sake.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Ron Paul got 431,000 in 1988.

  • ||


    Who are these lame nitwits who seek inspiration from a fucking POLITICIAN? Are these people really that psychologically empty?


    Believe it or not, yes. Also, there were a lot of people who thought they couldn't do anything until a Black man got elected president. This isn't saying that racism isn't real, but yeesh...TRY fighting it, my brothers and sisters. YEESH!

  • ||

    If the Democrats increase the top tax rate by 4.6%, our nation is doomed.

  • Rez||

    So who owns Obama, or was that his multimillions he spent on this election? Please tell so I know where to invest in these troubled times.

  • rez||

    Fascism is like Vishnu the hundred handed. Such a peculiar thing, and uneasy to discern from the inside looking out. Hegel mixed with Machiavelli creating a Janus effect. Is your left eye on your right in the mirror? So ahem, how shall we fair with Joe Biden having all the Bush despotic laws and executive orders at his disposal after Obama is sacrificed on the altar of Zionism? Oh I know, I know... paranoid, nonsensical, conspiratorial nonsense.

  • ||

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. "a repudiation of laissez-faire economics, deregulation, blah blah blah". Typical liberatian critical thinking! What insight.

  • K.T.||

    4 more years of george bush

  • ||

    Hit & Runners, what worries you most about the new day a-dawnin' in America?

    That we still have two and a half months of darkness.

  • ||

    Is Obama a "Stealth Candidate"?

    Of course he is. America, by voting in Mr. Everything-to-Everyone, the master of voting present, the god-emperor of semantic nullity, just elected a pig in a poke.

    The only question is, stealth for what?

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