Thursday, February 09, 2012

Obama the Centrist?

Four years ago many Obama supporters insisted that he was really a pragmatic centrist who was playing to the left. They insisted that as soon as he got into office he would settle down. Some people still insist on this but it is getting harder.

Obamacare is an example where he moved from a centrist position to a more extreme one as soon as he took office. During the campaign he mocked Hillary Clinton's plan because it contained an individual mandate then proceeded to ram through a plan based on this.

The Keystone pipeline is a more recent example. It passed environmental review and the State Department had deemed it as vital to US interests but it was opposed by environmentalists who see the development of tar sand-based oil in apocalyptic terms. Since the pipeline was supported by unions whose money Obama needs for his election campaign, the President tried to put the decision off until after the election by proposing an alternate route. When the Republicans forced his hand, he cancelled the pipeline although he threw the unions a crumb with the promise to reconsider if a new application was submitted. Some Obama supporters are still convinced that he would have eventually approved the pipeline if only the nasty Republicans hadn't interfered.

The Keystone pipeline is one of many examples where Obama has put his environmental agenda ahead of the common good. Another example is the new millage standards for cars. Previously these were passed by Congress but they were not as aggressive as the Obama administration desired so he took matters into his own hands. The standards are now determined by the EPA. The administration insists that they are forcing us to drive more efficient cars for our own good but the end result will be smaller cars that cost a great deal more and the total elimination of the low-end car market.

If this sounds familiar, it is the same justification the administration uses when defending the incandescent light bulb ban. This was passed by the Democratic Congress during the Bush administration but has strong support from the Obama administration.

When bailing out GM and Chrysler in 2009, Obama side-stepped bankruptcy laws, giving preference to unions over secured creditors. He publicly denounced anyone who objected as greedy.  

The most recent example is the ruling that church-based hospitals and schools have to carry coverage that includes birth control and abortions regardless of the supporting institution's beliefs.

This was a major blow to the many Catholics who supported Obama and insisted that, as a pragmatic centrist, he would never trample on their 1st Amendment rights.

The administration has begun a counter-attack saying that access to birth control is too important to be left to the churches' control. Considering the Constitutional implications, this is a very scary precedent.

For a former instructor of Constitutional law, Obama seems surprised at the separation of powers in our government. As recently as this week he complained about the system making it hard for him to institute major changes. His record reflects this since, as I showed, he has implemented major policies without regard for Congress or the Constitution.

These are not the actions of a pragmatic centrist. They are the actions of a frustrated ideologue.

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