Barack Obama: Closet Republican?

Official_portrait_of_Barack_ObamaLeon Hadar at The American Conservative thinks Obama’s foreign policy looks like George W. Bush’s, while his domestic policy looks like Eisenhower or Nixon:

…I never considered Obama to be a non-interventionist or a member of the peace movement. In fact, both in terms of his public statements and policies, Obama reminded me of President George H.W. Bush and his top “realist” foreign-policy advisors James Baker and Brent Scrowcroft: favoring pragmatism and a muddling-through approach over the pursuit of grand designs and ideological crusades; selective and preferring short military engagements over full-blown wars; Teddy Roosevelt over Woodrow Wilson.

Indeed, much of Obama’s cautious response to the so-called “Arab Spring” recalled Bush I’s efforts to deal with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism. And the decision to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait but not to invade Iraq provided a clear contrast between Bush I’s Realpolitik and the messianic foreign policy of Bush II. From that perspective, Obama’s leading-from-behind in Libya, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, coupled with the acceleration of the military withdrawal from Iraq (and apparently from Afghanistan), are pure Bush I, which explains why many neocons hated Papa Bush with the same intensity with which they now despise Obama…

…In a way, much of what Obama has been advocating on domestic policy is not very different from what a Bush I administration (or Nixon, Ford or Eisenhower) would be doing, ranging from raising taxes, reforming immigration policy, or protecting the environment. Obama, in short, is not a socialist or a even a social-democrat, just a good old centrist Republican.

Andrew Sullivan, Bruce Bartlett, Cornell West, and others have argued that Obama is actually a conservative- on the lines of Edmund Burke. There are a whole segment of pro-Obama conservatives: the Obamacons who feel the same way.

Personally, the way Obama has governed has made me far more interested in right-of-center ideas. To me, he has partially vindicated George W. Bush’s foreign policy; in many cases he has been more aggressive in the pursuit of terrorists than his maligned predecessor. His embrace of market-based solutions instead of heavy handed government programs has also interested me. The ideas behind Obamacare derived form the right, as did cap-and-trade. He doubled-down on ‘No Child Left Behind’ a Bush era education policy.

These are not the policies of a raging socialist. For more evidence, I’d recommend pulling back from and looking to the policies of a real socialist, François Hollande, current president of France. The view from 30,000 feet looks a lot different than at ground level.

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5 Responses to Barack Obama: Closet Republican?

  1. Pingback: Obama Embraces Another Republican Plan With Immigration Reform | Reason and Politics

  2. I agree with the foreign policy slant when discussing terrorism. I also like his Pacific strategy,

    Nixon wasn’t known for handling the economy particularly well. See “wage and price controls.”

  3. FLPatriot says:

    Comparing Obama to Bush W does not bring him closer to being a conservative; Bush W was not conservative in his approach to solutions. You pointed it out yourself with no child left behind, clearly a progressive program.

    “His embrace of market-based solutions instead of heavy handed government programs has also interested me.” The only market-based solution Obama has endorsed was the ones he was forced to accept in order to get something else passed. Look at Obamacare, he wanted single payer socialist medicine but knew he could not get it passed at this time so he settled for the monstrosity we have now.

    At every turn the President tells us he prefers heavy handed government programs to solve problems, but since the majority of Americans are not complete socialists yet he continues to settle for incremental government intrusion.

    It will be through the filter of history that we will be able to truly judge to effects this President has had on America, but it is my prediction that he has moved us further toward socialism.

    • Thanks for your comment. I do agree that there is a difference between ‘conservative’ and ‘Republican.’ I tried to be very deliberate in this post. The only time I used the word conservative was in in regards to Edmund Burke. I try to distinguish Burkean conservatism from movement conservatism, as I think you are trying to point out as well.

      I also think that whatever Obama’s intents were he has chosen policies that are a far cry from leftist. Read some op-ed’s from his supporters. The American left has been greatly disappointed with Obama’s lack of progressive policies.

      Also all the thinkers I pointed to except Cornell West are themselves conservatives, particularly Bartlett.

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