In 2008, whenever I pointed out that candidate Barack Obama came from the far Left of the political spectrum, a liberal I know would invariably tell me that this was just a campaign pose to inspire the more fanatic members of his base, and that, once elected, Obama govern as a centrist. Of course, it wasn’t just a campaign pose and Obama has governed from a harder Left position than any other candidate in American history — all while he and his people assiduously deny that there’s any Left about it.
Nevertheless, my liberal acquaintance is perfectly happy with Obama’s policies and continuously tells me that I’m the political extremist, while denying that he has any discernible ideology at all. Jonah Goldberg ably captures this Leftist denialism:
For the last 20 years, give or take another 50, one of the most cherished baubles of Beltway conventional wisdom has been that the Republican party has moved too far to the right.
We’ll come back to that in a moment.
Another beloved trinket in the nest of notions that make up elite groupthink is that liberals not only haven’t moved left, but they aren’t even liberals at all. A week doesn’t go by without Barack Obama insisting that he’s merely a pragmatist and problem-solver, with nary an ideological ax to grind. Shortly after he was re-elected, Obama told David Gregory, then the host of Meet the Press, the obvious takeaway of his presidency is that, “I’m not driven by some ideological agenda. I’m a pretty practical guy and I just want to make sure that things work.” A few weeks later, he gave the most ideologically left-wing State of the Union address of any president since FDR.
There’s something almost Soviet in this compulsion to follow a party line so disconnected to the reality it allegedly describes.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Beltway establishment, particularly political journalists, believes these talking points, largely because they, too, are committed liberals who think they are mere non-ideological arbiters of the facts.
So, what’s a hardcore Leftist denialist to do when Leftism doesn’t work and he needs to woo the voters? He pulls Left, even harder, all the while denying that he’s doing so. Sean Trende explains that this is what Hillary’s doing in her effort to lock in the Obama coalition, while Richard Fernandez points out that these same denialists are responding to the world’s crises by pulling ever harder to the left — and, by doing so, they’re only making things much, much worse.
Regarding Hillary’s campaign, Lincoln presciently summed it up: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” I just hope that the American people have finally reached the third clause in that aphorism. For the last two elections, we seem to have been stuck in the second clause.
When it comes to the panicked stampede to the Left from those whose policies are so signally failing in every area, from national security, to the economy, to the management of Democrat (mostly minority) enclaves, we can turn to Einstein for the appropriate aphorism: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Ironically, I remember that the Clintons loved to recite that quotation during their 1992 campaign from a His and Her presidency.)