Ready to laugh? According to David Swerdlick of the Washington Post, Barack Obama is a conservative.
I’ve had liberal friends argue that Obama is/was a moderate, but arguing that “conservative” and “Barack Obama” belong in the same sentence is like arguing that Bernie Sanders is a capitalist or that Elizabeth Warren is a bona fide Native American. I don’t understand why liberals believe that they can’t be honest about who Obama really is, but there’s definitely overlap between the people who claim Obama is close to center, and those who are now arguing for Medicare for All, free college, free childcare, student debt forgiveness, free abortions, free this, free that, free everything.
Rebranding Obama as a conservative seems less an assessment based in reality and more an exercise of expanding what the mainstream considers politically acceptable (otherwise known as the Overton Window) at a time when most of the Democrat candidates for president are advocating for policies that 20 years ago would have been proposed by only fringe candidates with no real shot of winning.
Still, Swerdlick’s claim deserves to not only be mocked, but destroyed.
Swerdlick referred to Obama’s “constant search for consensus,” which is hilarious given Obama’s historic inability to work with both sides to achieve bipartisan compromise legislation, which resulted in his regularly governing by executive action on issues like immigration and gun control.
The first sign Swerdlick was smoking something dangerous was that he claims Obamacare was a moderate compromise on healthcare. “The underlying concept for his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, with its individual mandate, was devised by the right-wing Heritage Foundation,” he writes. The Heritage Foundation actually disputes this claim that the individual mandate had anything to do with them—and actively opposed it in an amicus brief filed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.
Swerdlick then bizarrely cites Obama’s response to the financial crisis as evidence of Obama’s conservatism. “Obama wanted to protect Americans from the effects of a prolonged recession, so he agreed, in one of his defining votes as a senator, to a bailout of banks — and as president, he prioritized recovery over punishing bankers for their role in the financial crisis. In his first inaugural address, he affirmed the power of the free market ‘to generate wealth and expand freedom.’” What Swerdlick fails to mention is that Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress passed (without Republican support) the stimulus plan, which was the start of a massive spending binge that lasted for years, resulting in Obama amassing more debt than all past presidents combined. And then there’s the Dodd-Frank Act, a behemoth of big-government regulation, which passed largely on party lines.
Next, Swerdlick cites Obama’s reluctance to pursue gun-control until after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012 as though Obama was some Second Amendment advocate or something, but then completely forgets Obama’s executive actions on gun control in the aftermath of that tragedy and the San Bernardino terror attack. Obama’s Operation Choke Point was also another low point in his anti-gun crusade that escaped Swerdlick’s memory.
At this point, Swerdlick rolls out the big guns: “Obama’s approach to politics was marked by a circumspection that went even deeper than policies.” Yeah, okay. Whatever. I guess we’re supposed to forget things like DACA, net neutrality, Common Core, taxpayer-funded abortion, the federal takeover of student loans, tax increases, card check, radical transgender ideology, funding terrorism, etc., etc., because Obama likes to brood on the can a bit before flushing American values and the rule of law down the toilet.
Swerdlick believes Obama’s recent statement that “the average American doesn’t think that we have to completely tear down the system and remake it” is somehow proof of Obama’s inner Ronald Reagan, and not simply his acknowledgment of the political reality that you need to get elected before you start transforming America into a liberal dystopia. Obama understood he needed to run for president as a uniter before bulldozing the system with left-wing pie-in-the-sky policies. That doesn’t make him a conservative, it just makes him a savvy politician.
No matter what Swerdlick claims, Obama was a far-left politician who set out to fundamentally transform America, and, in many ways succeeded.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis