In a very stupid analysis in the Washington Post this week, assistant editor David Swerdlick claimed to have figured out why it’s so tough for 2020 Democratic candidates to get the so-called Obama Coalition behind them. It’s not because every two-bit pundit with something to say has a platform on Twitter. It’s not because the Democratic Party has gone so far off the deep end that anyone with a few brain cells to rub together is looking for the exits. And, of course, it has nothing to do with a certain Republican president who snatched up huge swaths of Obama’s Midwest voters with his populist campaign. No, no, it’s because – get this – Barack Obama was never a liberal in the first place.
“The contrast between Obama’s steady approach and the seeming radicalism of his Democratic heirs can’t just be chalked up to changing times,” Swerdlick writes. “It’s because the former president, going back at least to his 2004 Senate race, hasn’t really occupied the left side of the ideological spectrum. He wasn’t a Republican, obviously: He never professed a desire to starve the federal government, and he opposed the Iraq War, which the GOP overwhelmingly supported. But to the dismay of many on the left, and to the continuing disbelief of many on the right, Obama never dramatically departed from the approach of presidents who came before him.
“There’s a simple reason: Barack Obama is a conservative,” he explains.
Swerdlick admits, of course, that Obama’s policies had nothing to do with “right-of-center” politics, but he still trudges forward with his broken thesis.
“His constant search for consensus, for ways to bring Blue America and Red America together, sometimes led him to policies that used Republican means to achieve more liberal ends,” he writes. “The underlying concept for his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, with its individual mandate, was devised by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and first implemented at the state level by Mitt Romney, then the Republican governor of Massachusetts. Obama wanted to protect Americans from the effects of a prolonged recession, so he agreed, in one of his defining votes as a senator, to a bailout of banks — and as president, he prioritized recovery over punishing bankers for their role in the financial crisis. In his first inaugural address, he affirmed the power of the free market ‘to generate wealth and expand freedom.’”
Yeah, none of that has anything to do with conservatism. At best, it was political pragmatism. At worst, Swerdlick is using the fact that Bush and Romney did things to make a case for Obama’s conservatism. You might as well continue to refer to fellow Post columnist Jennifer Rubin as a conservative, if those are your standard-bearers.
Unfortunately, we suspect Swerdlick was motivated to write this nonsense not because he was proud of his unique, brilliant take on President Obama, but because the left wants to shove the Overton Window over a few (hundred) feet to make candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seem less radical than they really are. See, it’s not that left-wing policies suck, guys…it’s that they’ve never really been tried before!
Our reluctant guess is that plenty of Democrat voters are primed to fall for this propaganda.