Is Obama really a radical at heart?

Original article, by Lance Selfa and subtitled If Obama is acting like a centrist now, it’s most likely because he is a centrist–rather than a radical posing as one to get elected, via

WITH LITTLE else to offer on its own behalf, the McCain-Palin ticket has built an entire campaign on ridiculing and demonizing Barack Obama. First, Obama was a neophyte. Then, he was a celebrity. Now, he’s a dangerous radical, even a friend to terrorists.

Much has been made of this, particularly from the Palin camp.  None of it’s really stuck (as far as I can tell).  It looks like it won’t keep Obama from being elected.

In the fevered imaginations of the right wing, Obama is a dangerous radical who is hiding behind a mask of cool “centrism.” Once in office–and with a Democratic majority at his back–Obama will pull off the mask to reveal his true, radical agenda.

Yeah, right.  All of his sponsors from the business sector would be going for him because he’s a radical.  Repugs can be so silly…

But in the camp of Obama supporters, a similar–if less crazed–analysis holds.

It goes this way: Obama is a genuine progressive who is dedicated to affecting major political and social changes. But because he’s running in a generally conservative country, with the Republicans ready to pounce on his every misstep, he can’t really lay out his full aspirations. So he has to reassure people, using the language of market-friendly “centrism.” Once Obama is in office, goes the reasoning, progressives will have an ally who will work with them to produce the social change that they all want.

Go read the bigger ‘lefty’ blogs.  There are a few voices of reason, but the ‘more and better’ Democrat set seems to have wrap around blinkers on for the most part.  I wonder if all of those new voters energized by Obama will becom cynics toward politics should Obama maintain his center/righ orientation?

Yet despite Obama’s soaring rhetoric, he has actually advocated few policies that break with any of the accepted orthodoxy in Washington today.

Selfa goes on to paint out the picture of Obama as a centerist, as opposed to a closet radical.  It’s good reading, and reinforces what we already know about the probable next President.  He makes the point that Obama may be forced into a new New Deal, much the same way that President Roosevelt was.  He leaves us with a reminder and a warning:

Despite some capitalists’ complaints that the New Deal represented a step toward “socialism,” Roosevelt and the New Dealers had no such intention. The New Deal helped to save capitalism from itself. And Roosevelt argued to his business critics, “I am the best friend the profit system ever had.”

I fully suspect this is a line Obama will be happy to spout heading toward his probable re-nomination campaign.


  1. about Obama is that he is smart and apparently willing to listen to all kinds of people–conservatives, yes, but also liberals.  I seem to recall that Lincoln is one of his role models, and Lincoln famously invited many opinions from many different types of people before making up his mind.  Somebody wrote a book about it; I think it was Doris Kearn Goodwin’s Circle of Friends.

    That said, no, nobody on the left thinks Obama is anything but a centrist.  Reason for optimism?  He is open to new ideas and is teachable, unlike the Boy In The Bubble we’ve been stuck with for the past 8 years, and unlike the Ossified Republican and Immature Potential VP who oppose him.

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