Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Obama: Teflon President II?

So now Obama has taken conservative positions on civil rights, women's rights, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, health care, and now offshore drilling and greenhouse gas regulation. I am struck by a consistent pattern in these: there is just enough movement to the left from Republican positions to separate the Democratic position from the Republican. At the same time, wealth and power are left secure. This is similar to Obama's campaign position: just far enough to the left to win votes, no further, and never concessions to the moderate left or the actual US center. Through all this Obama remains popular.

Reagan was the "Teflon President." No matter how horrible his position was, no matter who was hurt, no matter if his administration connived at treason (younger people look up Iran-Contra), he kept popular support, often from the people who his politics harmed. Possibly his most destructive policies were the gutting of the securities regulatory system and the abandonment of the FCC's fairness policy: those have come to haunt us in the last decade. Many of his supporters, aging, have become the Teabaggers. Obama seems to be Teflon President II. As with Reagan, too, his worst policy failures will make themselves felt after he is out of office: the poorly-designed health care system and the apparent sellout to the coal and oil industry on greenhouse gases now beginning. I wonder if, in 25 years, there will not be an aging group of Obama supporters defending his policies against their failings, even as the seas rise.

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