Breaking: National lightbringer turns out not to be so centrist after all

posted at 4:01 pm on March 11, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama campaigned twice on the argument that he represented the mainstream, centrist voters in America while Republicans represented the extreme on the Right. Originally, Obama pledged to change Washington to push a centrist vision of policy and politics, the “Hope and Change” that would transform the country and end bitter partisanship. More than five years later, Pew Research and Josh Kraushaar at National Journal finally make the comparison of Obama’s talk to Obama’s actions, and shockingly discover what most of us knew already — that Obama is an extreme partisan, and that his party is moving to the Left over the last few years just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right:

Pew Research Center Founding Director Andrew Kohut wrote an important Washington Post column last month highlighting the Democratic drift leftward during the Obama administration. Backed by decades of Pew data, Kohut concluded that Democrats have grown just as liberal as Republicans have become more conservative in recent years. “They are much more socially liberal than they were even a decade ago, more supportive of an activist government, more in favor of increased regulation of business,” Kohut writes.

It’s a useful corrective to the notion, fueled by the White House, that the Republican Party alone is responsible for gridlock in Washington. But Kohut downplays one significant factor that has expedited the Democratic polarization: President Obama himself.

In the piece, Kohut instinctively labels the Obama administration as centrist. But on all five major issues that divide the Democratic Party’s liberals and moderates—the budget deficit, income inequality, the environment, social issues, and America’s role in the world—Obama is on the leftward side.

This shocking bit of analysis comes pretty late in the game for Hot Air readers, but it’s useful as a marker on the end of the Hopenchange illusion. On issue after issue, Kraushaar compares the Obama administration’s positions and actions with that of the moderate Democratic positions according to the Pew data, and finds them to be sharply left of that marker. Obama’s new budget blows up entitlement reform and deficit-reduction efforts, for instance, while the sharp cuts to military spending appeal to progressives and few others.

Kohut tried to sell the Democratic movement to the Left while placing Obama in a trailing position:

The Pew Research Center’s values surveys, spanning 1987 to 2012, show that Democrats as a whole have moved to the left in recent years. They are much more socially liberal than they were even a decade ago, more supportive of an activist government, more in favor of increased regulation of business.

Every single one of those descriptors applies to the Obama White House.  That’s especially true of activist government and rapidly-increasing regulation on business. And yet, here’s Kohut asserting that this movement has been stymied by Obama:

Under the more centrist Obama administration, the leftward movement of Democratic voters has been of limited political consequence. Most of the change on social policies such as same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization has come at the state and local levels. However, looking ahead to 2016, the viability of liberal Democrats has emerged as a critical question for the Democratic Party. Even as conventional wisdom coalesces around Hillary Rodham Clinton as the establishment candidate, the success of prominent progressives — Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio come to mind — means the party could face an ideological divide in 2016.

Some memes are just too powerful for evidence to refute, it seems. Marijuana legalization didn’t gain momentum from liberals as much as it did from libertarians over the last few years, whose strength has increased in reaction to the sharp shift to the left by Democrats and the right by Republicans. Same-sex-marriage is also a libertarian-driven issue, but to Kohut’s point, one on which Obama hardly led until he got pushed. By Kohut’s own criteria, as Kraushaar points out, Obama and his administration are on the vanguard of progressivism.

Be sure to read all of Josh’s piece, and note especially this penultimate paragraph about the dangers of Obama’s extreme leftward shift in his second term, at least to other Democrats:

Indeed, in understanding the challenges vulnerable Democrats face in 2014, it’s worth recalling how differently Obama has approached his second term compared with Bill Clinton. Clinton’s big second-term success was signing a balanced-budget agreement, working with conservative House Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich. Despite the Monica Lewinsky scandal—and because of GOP overreach—Clinton’s approval rating in the pre-midterm Gallup Poll stood at 66 percent. In 1998, Democrats picked up seats in conservative North Carolina (John Edwards) and Indiana (Evan Bayh), while holding seats in Arkansas and South Carolina. It’s no surprise that, 16 years later, Clinton will be campaigning for more Senate Democrats than Obama will.

It probably won’t help, though, especially if Clinton ends up getting challenged from the party’s left. She’ll have to move in that direction, and after eight years of failure on economics and foreign policy — for the latter of which she’ll have significant blame — the country will not be keen on moving even further down the path of failure. At least, we can get a little “truth in labeling,” as Kraushaar puts it.


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In other shocking news…. water is wet and fire burns…

oscarwilde on March 11, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Duh

LeftCoastRight on March 11, 2014 at 4:03 PM

that Obama is an extreme partisan, and that his party is EVOLVING to the Left over the last few years just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right:

Sven on March 11, 2014 at 4:04 PM

What is the Hell is breaking about this

KBird on March 11, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Originally, Obama pledged to change Washington to push a centrist vision of policy and politics, the “Hope and Change” that would transform the country and end bitter partisanship.

And anyone who believed that for 10 seconds has proven themselves to be too stupid to be trusted anywhere near a polling place. In fact, they should be horsewhipped. Althouse and McCardle should be first in that line.

Lanceman on March 11, 2014 at 4:04 PM

just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right

When did that happen?

steebo77 on March 11, 2014 at 4:05 PM

“extreme partisan”…and extreme crook.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 11, 2014 at 4:05 PM

These people get paid for this kind of “cheap” analysis ?

J_Crater on March 11, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Nice vetting job, six years late.

tru2tx on March 11, 2014 at 4:09 PM

He’s a CommunistMuslim, the worst of everything.

Coulda just ast me, didn’t need no Pew Center.

Akzed on March 11, 2014 at 4:09 PM

just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right

When did that happen?

steebo77 on March 11, 2014 at 4:05 PM

If you blinked, you missed it.

Lost in Jersey on March 11, 2014 at 4:10 PM

…bullshit…runs deep!

KOOLAID2 on March 11, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Is it still allowed to call Baracco Banner bossy?

John the Libertarian on March 11, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Lying sack exposed to be a lying sack…

O_o

Seven Percent Solution on March 11, 2014 at 4:16 PM

He is self-centered, does that count? And he does love to be the center of attention. And he does believe that God sent her, er him, to fix the world.

Flange on March 11, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Wow. The Washington Post reported it. We finally have the right to know that we were right all this time.

I can’t wait for them to publish a piece about how Obamacare has nothing to do with improving healthcare, but everything to do with increasing control over our lives. Then we’ll finally have the right to know that we were right about that all this time, too.

brentspolemics on March 11, 2014 at 4:21 PM

and that his party is moving to the Left over the last few years just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right

WTFFF? Is this a joke?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 11, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Nice vetting job, six years late.

tru2tx on March 11, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Yes, well…now that his objectives, which The Washington Post tacitly supports, have had time to take root, they can pretend to give a crap and, thus, retain low-fo readership.

brentspolemics on March 11, 2014 at 4:23 PM

The GOP has not moved to the right, as a political party. It is divided between those who want the party more conservative and those who seem to have control of the party apparatus.

The GOP is as liberal as it has ever been going back to Bush the Elder’s ‘voodoo economics’ charge leveled at Reagan.

Joseph OHenry on March 11, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Typical example of modern American “journalism”.

Sure, Obama exploded the national debt, destroyed relations with our allies, devestated our economy, gutted our military, and pissed all over the Constitution…but, conservatives elected Ted Cruz, so they’re both equally responsible for the shithole we now find ourselves in.

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on March 11, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Obama is an extreme partisan, and that his party is moving to the Left over the last few years just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right:

Wait, the GOP has moved to the right? On what issue, pray tell – I must’ve missed it.

I’ll allow that I’m potentially mistaken here, but my initial reaction to such a claim is, well… a combination of a hearty guffaw with a robusst exclamation of “bullshit!”.

Midas on March 11, 2014 at 4:33 PM

So, a dude, who once had the most liberal voting record in the Senate and was to the left of even the self-described Socialist, Bernie Sanders, isn’t the centrist that he and his bots claimed?!?!

Colour me shocked.

Not.

Resist We Much on March 11, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Bwahahahahahahahahahaha…The clueless looking at the record of the clueless has just come to the conclusion that…we’ve been clueless!

vnvet on March 11, 2014 at 4:39 PM

and that his party is moving to the Left over the last few years just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right

The GOP hasn’t moved anywhere that I can see. Look at their last two presidential candidates. As for the Democrats, somebody name one “moderate” that’s left in that party. Maybe Manchin of WVa, but he’s the only one I can think of.

Many on the left think the Tea Party represents some kind of extreme right shift in the GOP – but the Tea Party is nothing more than the “activist” wing of the conservative movement. There’s nothing new about the Tea Party’s positions, i.e., limited government, fiscal sanity, the Constitution, etc.

TarheelBen on March 11, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Wait, the GOP has moved to the right? On what issue, pray tell – I must’ve missed it.

I’ll allow that I’m potentially mistaken here, but my initial reaction to such a claim is, well… a combination of a hearty guffaw with a robusst exclamation of “bullshit!”.

Midas on March 11, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Yup – I missed that swing…
The only GOP moving right are the TEA party people – and the eGOP wants to “crush them”. So I don’t see much of a right swing for the GOP as a whole.

dentarthurdent on March 11, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Marijuana legalization didn’t gain momentum from liberals as much as it did from libertarians over the last few years, whose strength has increased in reaction to the sharp shift to the left by Democrats and the right by Republicans.

Some memes are just too powerful for evidence to refute, it seems.

Indeed.

Midas on March 11, 2014 at 4:45 PM

The Presstitutes in the Manure Spreading Media have their collective heads so far up King Putt’s azz it will prove impossible for ANY of them to ever SEE THE LIGHT. And there is absolutely nothing to say worthwhile about Obowmao’s Loyal Followers. They will continue to drink the koolaid and help write the HIStory books. I doubt the true story about the Panahou High School bench scrub will ever be told with any realism or facts.

Missilengr on March 11, 2014 at 4:46 PM

My comment over at NJ:

It’s absolutely mind-boggling that anyone familiar with Obama’s record could suggest that he was anything but a radical leftist ideologue. He was raised by radical leftists, educated by radical leftists, admittedly sought out the company and counsel of radical leftists, was trained in the methods of Saul Alinsky, and repeatedly allied himself with radical leftist organizations and their goals. Right up until that radical reality threatened his viability as a presidential candidate, at which point he re-created himself, donning the disguise of a centrist with the whole-hearted assistance of the media. How much kool-aid was required to ignore his history, adopt his undeniably politically expedient self-portrayal as some kind of centrist, and only come out of that delusion, finally, five years into his disastrous presidency?

In years to come, as the magnitude of the Obama debacle becomes ever more clear, the profession’s utter abandonment of its principles and its very purpose in its treatment of Obama and his presidency will be viewed as one of the lowest points in the history of journalism.

novaculus on March 11, 2014 at 4:47 PM

So, a dude, who once had the most liberal voting record in the Senate and was to the left of even the self-described Socialist, Bernie Sanders, isn’t the centrist that he and his bots claimed?!?!

Colour me shocked.

Not.

Resist We Much on March 11, 2014 at 4:34 PM

^This.

On top of that Obama is an abortion extremist (way outside of the mainstream) and attended an anti-Semitic and racist church for 20 (!) years and, in his own words, attended often.

He’s also been brought up in the Chicago Democratic Machine AKA one of the most corrupt, backwards, and regressive political organizations in the country and is the primary reason why Illinois is ranked at the bottom of every state ratings system.

Any American, including Low Info voters, that didn’t know Obama was a Leftist is a fool. Other people knew he was on the extreme Left and voted for him because of his skin color. They’re fools too.

visions on March 11, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Every single one of those descriptors applies to the Obama White House. That’s especially true of activist government and rapidly-increasing regulation on business.

Ed, I don’t think your sources are interpreting some of the poll questions accurately. Although it’s true that most Democrats responded ‘yes’ when asked if stronger environmental protections are needed, I don’t think it’s fair to rephrase that question as “increased regulation of business”. Question wording makes every difference in the world in polling (a fact your source certainly knows.)

Moreover, support on the left for protecting the environment has simply held steady over the past 2 decades, with no real change. It’s on the right that attitudes have shifted drastically:

For the first time in a Pew Research Center political values survey, only about half of Republicans (47%) agree that “there needs to be stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment.” This represents a decline of 17 points since 2009 and a fall of nearly 40 points, from 86%, since 1992.

As for Obama himself, keep in mind that he left cuts in social security spending on the table until this year’s budget, hoping to arrive at a bargain (grand bargain anyone?) with the GOP, tying those cuts to tax hikes. Unfortunately, the Tea Party has nurtured too many delusions of grandeur in recent years and failed to take a very good compromise when it was within reach. Today, the senior lobby has organized its base and will fight any reform to the end, the far right has remained intractable. Given the context, it’s hard to signify this policy change as a major political shift.

bayam on March 11, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Heck, the one good speech that 0bama ever gave… The keynote address at the 2004 Democrap National Convention (Oh, how many months did he have to practice that, with coaches and speech writers???), it was obvious to me that he was a leftist.

LegendHasIt on March 11, 2014 at 4:50 PM

novaculus on March 11, 2014 at 4:47 PM

You think any of that registered on the young or on the stupid?

He was black and black is cool. That’s all that mattered.

Lanceman on March 11, 2014 at 4:53 PM

So, a dude, who once had the most liberal voting record in the Senate and was to the left of even the self-described Socialist, Bernie Sanders, isn’t the centrist that he and his bots claimed?!?!

Colour me shocked.

Not.

Resist We Much on March 11, 2014 at 4:34 PM

If you look at his votes in total, which means counting the “present” votes, his average would be slightly left of center. If you just take into account his actual votes, thus leaving out the “present” votes, he is far left.

Not disagreeing with you at all…..just a lot of lofo’s(low information voters) believed he was a centrist because……his lack of record of voting while in the Senate skewed or hide his beliefs from a lot of the public.

My kids say thanks for posting the holiday pictures of NYC as we missed going there last holiday season.

HonestLib on March 11, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Lanceman on March 11, 2014 at 4:53 PM

The young and the stupid I can forgive. I was young myself once, and I seem to recall that involved more than a little stupidity.

The so called journalists, the punditry, have no excuses for their craven Obamism. I’ll be a while forgiving them.

novaculus on March 11, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Obama doesn’t “lead”. He prefers to follow. Then he claims credit.

GarandFan on March 11, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Obama doesn’t “lead”. He prefers to follow. Then he claims credit.

GarandFan on March 11, 2014 at 5:17 PM

They are called “camp followers“.

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Has anyone written the newspaper article informing Barry that he is a leftist?

Sven on March 11, 2014 at 5:32 PM

I’d go to visit Claude Rains’ grave, but it’s currently buried under 10 feet of Gore-Bull Warming.

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Breaking?!?!?!?!?! As we used to say when I was a youngin’, ‘No sh!t, Sherlock, where’d you leave your squad car???’…Sheeeeesh…

bimmcorp on March 11, 2014 at 5:36 PM

O’bama as a “Senator” (a job he Quit halfway thru his term-sound familiar?) had the most liberal record in the Senate. So this isn’t exactly earth shattering news…

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2014 at 5:36 PM

I remember, When Obama was first running for president. Obama was rated as the most liberal, left rated senator in the senate. Apparently, lots of people do not pay attention.

birdwatcher on March 11, 2014 at 5:41 PM

the country will not be keen on moving even further down the path of failure.

oh man, that was a knee-slapper. like “the country” didnt just DO that 2 years ago. yep, couldn’t happen AGAIN.

t8stlikchkn on March 11, 2014 at 5:51 PM

C-BS “News”, circa 2007:

National Journal is out with its ratings of the votes of the members of the Senate, and it has found that the most liberal senator in 2007 was Barack Obama.

“The insurgent presidential candidate shifted further to the left last year in the run-up to the primaries, after ranking as the 16th- and 10th-most-liberal during his first two years in the Senate,” National Journal notes.

Hillary Clinton was found to be tied as the 16th most liberal senator, after having placed 32nd the previous year.

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Obama is an extreme partisan, and that his party is moving to the Left over the last few years just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right

I must have missed it, when did this sharp turn to the right happen?

When did we cut spending, cut taxes, cut regulations or stopped the Democrats in any meaningful way?

RJL on March 11, 2014 at 7:08 PM

When did we cut spending, cut taxes, cut regulations or stopped the Democrats in any meaningful way?

RJL on March 11, 2014 at 7:08 PM

There was that threat to hold the D’s accountable on the next hill or something……plus…..Mitch has promised to not let us down again. That alone has the D’s all over the country wandering around aimlessly, as if their world was just upended.

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Mitch has promised to not let us down again.

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Was that CPAC promise one or two days before he said that we would be “crushed”?

RJL on March 11, 2014 at 8:25 PM

Moreover, support on the left for protecting the environment has simply held steady over the past 2 decades, with no real change.

brayam on March 11, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Define “protecting the environment”. Does that include wind power?

Here in central New Hampshire, a new wind farm came on line a year ago. When it was in the planning stages, the Leftist Environmentalists said it would be absolutely no problem.

They assured us that the 24 towers (each 400 feet tall) would not create a negative “visual impact”, and also said that those towers would not threaten one of the only Peregrine Falcon nesting sites in the state, just a mile across the valley below the turbines.

The Left’s Activist Judges on the New Hampshire Supreme Court would not allow any challenges to the project, most notably from those who would end up directly below the towers.

After the towers were built and went online in January 2013, the visual impact was immediate. They are visible from the eastern side of Lake Winnipesaukee. That’s 40 miles from the towers. They are also visible from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s precious Appalachian Trail, just to the north.

Ironically, the Appalachian Mountain Club, one of the most radical Leftist tree hugger groups here, declined to endorse this wind farm. While at the same time bitterly opposing a proposal to bring hydropower from Hydro-Quebec.

Their objection? The towers would be 1/4 as tall as the wind farm towers.

Oh, and in the past month the Appalachian Mountain Club has opposed another proposed wind farm here in central New Hampshire.

Their reason?

It would be in their own back yard.

Del Dolemonte on March 11, 2014 at 9:04 PM

. . . and that his party is moving to the Left over the last few years just as sharply as the GOP moved to the right:

I’m sorry, Ed, these are your words? or attributed elsewhere? I think you have to explain this one, as everyone here seems to be demanding.

The GOP has some new-found conservative interpretation on a social or fiscal issue? on a constitutional matter? a federal matter? something else? Has not the GOP in fact moved to the left?

And a question for everyone, because maybe I’m out of it. I thought I was here, at this website, precisely because of unwanted Republication Party moves and their direction. True?

Lolo on March 11, 2014 at 10:50 PM

Some memes are just too powerful for evidence to refute, it seems.

Apparently. Obama has always been a far left radical, but they want to jabber on about a gradual drift to the left?

When he campaigned against saving the lives of babies who somehow managed to survive abortion, it became quite clear what he was. And that was before he ever made it to the US Senate.

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 11, 2014 at 11:32 PM

For the first time in a Pew Research Center political values survey, only about half of Republicans (47%) agree that “there needs to be stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment.” This represents a decline of 17 points since 2009 and a fall of nearly 40 points, from 86%, since 1992.

bayam on March 11, 2014 at 4:49 PM

One possibility for the shift in opinion is that Republicans no longer feel the environment should be protected. Yep, that’s extreme, no doubt about it.

The other possibility is that Republicans feel that the current laws and regulations are sufficient (or even over-kill), and thus we do NOT need to add any stricter laws to the books.

Looks like the pollsters need to add some sub-clauses to their question banks.

AesopFan on March 12, 2014 at 2:38 AM

It took these brilliant analysts this long to figure out that a community organizer is a leftist? Shocking! Round up the usual suspects.

Herb on March 12, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Careful observation will show that Resident Obama;s halo is dimming just like his wit is.

MSGTAS on March 12, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Careful observation will show that Resident Obama’s halo is dimming just like his wit is.

MSGTAS on March 12, 2014 at 10:40 AM