Friday, July 15, 2011

I Know: Picky, Picky, Picky

I don't really expect any better from the corporate media in general, but I do wish that nominally liberal commentators would stop talking about Democratic politicians moving "to the center" when they mean "to the right." Maybe Robert Reich was being a tad sarcastic when he wrote today:
After a bruising midterm election, the president moves to the political center. He distances himself from his Democratic base. He calls for cuts in Social Security and signs historic legislation ending a major entitlement program. He agrees to balance the budget with major cuts in domestic discretionary spending. He has a showdown with Republicans who threaten to bring government to its knees if their budget demands aren't met. He wins the showdown, successfully painting them as radicals. He goes on to win re-election.
Now, Reich's point was that he wasn't talking about Obama but about Bill Clinton, whom the above passage also describes. It's not quite accurate in other ways -- for example, both Obama and Clinton were already much further to the right before their "bruising midterm elections" than Reich seems to recognize. In both cases, those bruising midterms had something to do with their right-wing policies: Clinton's pushing through NAFTA and Obama's general service to Wall Street and his other big corporate donors, like the insurance companies. Obama hinted at his wish to assault "entitlements" before he was elected -- even before he won the nomination. Both Clinton and Obama would have to move drastically to be the left to be in the center, if we're talking about American public opinion at large instead of the right-wing political, corporate and media elites to whom they belong.

So please, no more talk of "moving to the center." It's just a small step toward honesty in our political discourse, but it might embolden liberals to be more honest on other topics, like Obama's wars.