Note to Conservatives: Barack Obama Is Not a Liberal:
In today's Washington Post, Thomas Dolby doppelganger Michael Gerson writes a little elegy for us liberals and our beliefs because our great and mightypresident, Barack Obama, isn't being a faithful standard bearer. "After four years of Barack Obama and two clarifying presidential debates, it is extraordinary how shrunken liberalism has become," says the conservative columnist who once was a loyal water carrier for the particularly un-liberal George W. Bush. "[T]he Obama agenda also reflects a broader shift in American liberalism, which has become reactive," Gerson continues. "Liberals often defend unreformed, unsustainable health entitlements — even though these commitments place increasing burdens on the young to benefit those who are older and better off." He outright calls Obama a "liberal president."
Oh, dear, dear Mikey. You know what's become "shrunken"? You know what's been degraded? The meaning of liberalism. At this point, "liberal" apparently is just used to describe anyone who has a vaguely different opinion than the most radical conservatives. There is no longer space for moderates to be called "moderates." In other words, if you think that war shouldn't be eternal and that rich people should pay a little more in taxes and that the government should, well, govern, you are a liberal. That's why David Frum and Jill Stein can both be called "liberal" when, in reality, they have virtually nothing in common. It's as if the writing of the dictionary had been handed over to the fattest flag-hatted teabagger on a scooter.
Meanwhile, those of us who are actually, really, truly liberal listen to conservatives talk about Barack Obama and think, "Huh. Are they talking about the same drone missile-sending, warrantless-wiretapping, Romneycare-embracing, tax-cutting, pot grower-arresting, Wall Street banker-protecting, whistleblower-chasing, oil-drilling president that we are?" By the way, that's just the stuff that he actually could have done differently if he were a liberal. It's not getting into all the things that he compromised away with Republicans (and some Vichy Democrats) or couldn't get through Congress.
See, Obama is the moderate that most of us on the left will vote for this time (and some won't). Sure, in some areas, like women's rights and, finally, gay marriage, he's genuinely got a lean to the left, but he ain't a radical. You can call him "liberal" as much as you want, but just because he's a little more liberal than Mitt Romney, it does not mean he's the second coming of FDR. And, by the way, if anyone who is a moderate Republican is voting for Mitt Romney because they think he's secretly still one of them, you will be in for a miserable four years should Romney win. That sentence could be written with the word "conservative" in place of "moderate" because this is Romney we're talking about.
Obama never had a liberal agenda. He was elected as a centrist. He has governed as a centrist. Trust a liberal, dear boy Michael: he has pissed us off mightily. Unlike the paranoid right, most of us don't believe that he's been holding back his socialist beliefs until he's reelected. We have accepted that he is not a liberal and never will be. But we'll take the liberal victories we can eke out, like Supreme Court nominees who don't want to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Yeah, yeah, this goes against the Big Narrative, the one that a conservative media has forced down our gullets for the last four years, the one that everyone who opposes Obama has screamed about. But at this point, supposedly rational conservatives like Gerson should be intelligent enough to recognize the difference. Or, perhaps like Mitt Romney, it's just far, far easier to keep the lie going.