Center-left, perhaps

Norman Orenstein, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, yes, the place that separated itself from someone who dared suggest the Republicans blew it on HIR, writes:

Looking at the range of Obama domestic and foreign policies, and his agency and diplomatic appointments, my conclusion is clear: This president is a mainstream, pragmatic moderate, operating in the center of American politics; center-left, perhaps, but not left of center. The most radical president in American history? Does Newt Gingrich, a PhD in history, really believe that [expletive]?

"Center-left, perhaps?" Let's see if they fire this guy.

9 thoughts on “Center-left, perhaps”

  1. That's the first time I've seen anyone in the media actually say that. Unfortunately, center-left is still not correct. We've moved the goal posts so far to the right in the last 40 years that Obama would be considered a solid conservative in most other Western democracies. Ultimately, Obama is just doing what every other American president has been doing for the last 100 years: expanding the Pax Americana and defending the rights of corporations to plunder workers and natural resources at home and abroad.

  2. This would be perfectly reasonable if it weren't based on a false dichotomy (left and right.)  Nothing is more corrosive to political discussion than that narrative.  Instead of talking about the issues themselves (nuclear proliferation, gay marriage, nation building, taxation, etc…) we spend time having a meta-argument over how far 'left' or 'right' someone is on as BS abstraction subjective scale.  Is Obama a 'lefty' or a 'centrist?'  Who cares?  It's a stupid label with no real meaning that you can define however you want.

  3. Yes Jem, and an AEI guy at that.

    Andrew, a false dichotomy is, broadly speaking, an error in reasoning–this guy is not guilty of that at all.

    He's doing taxonomy.  On the spectrum of left and right, Obama is right in the middle (I'd say middle right).

  4. See, you think he's "middle right" (Whatever that means.)  That says more about your views than Obama;s.  This idea of there being any accepted standard for 'left' and 'right' is a fallacious claim.  The argument for classification when the standard for the taxonomy is subjectively based on an individual's assessment of what is the 'center.'
    I know that this argument could be brought against virtually all forms of taxonomy, but as the saying goes, "All models are wrong, but some models are useful."  When there's no agreed on standard AND your dealing with something a complex and varied as political positions, AND you're trying to break it into a 1 dimensional scale… well that is the best example of a false dichotomy.

  5. Yes yes of course.  Pardon my being blunt here, but you seem to be ignoring that he's dealing with a spectrum question, not an either/or one, and that he's defined his standard pretty clearly (stuff Republicans believe versus stuff Democrats tend to believe). 

    Again, a false dichotomy is a kind of error in reasoning.  It happens when one posits two mutually exclusive alternatives, one of which is aburd, and then alleges there really is only one sensible option.  Ornstein has not done that here, as (1) hasn't given only two options (it's a spectrum!); and he doesn't say one is absurd, etc. 

    Finally, opinions differ, that's why I said: "I'd say"–I would say.  I didn't say: "He absolutely is this, because this taxonomy is exhaustive, all hail me, your argument is invalid.  “

    Read before you criticize please. 

  6. I've read your statements, why would you think I have not?  My criticism was not of you, but of the quoted remarks and argument made (or was this not placed here as an example of a poor argument, because it seems clear to me that it is…)
    I think our disagreement hinges on whether this qualifies as a forced choice or not.  We'll put the lack of any real standard for what qualifies as left or right aside.  What I am saying is that this type of reasoning attempts to promote the perception of nuance by overcoming a self-imposed false dichotomy while still playing into it.  To clarify, what is the purpose of claiming to be a centrists?  All politicians wish to be seen as centrists in some fashion.  However the very term itself means nothing more than not simply left or right, while using a vernacular that demonstrates that it accepts the polarized scale of left/right politics.
    So the narrative goes that we are fighting within extremes, polarized and opposite, where there are two positions on every issue, and nuance is not saying that the position on any issue can be approached from much more than two perspectives, but is instead simply picking and choosing between them.  It claims to overcome the false dichtonomy by reinforcing it.
    For a clear example of this, simply reread the article "David Frum, AEI, Heritage And Health Care" that you linked to above.  Here it is presented that because a 'right wing' group supported a plan with traits similar to ObamaCare, this means that any 'right wing' dissent is insincere.  There is only one 'right' and only one 'left' so therefore if one 'right winger' says X then X must be acceptable to all 'right wingers.'  False dichotomy, false dichotomy, false dichotomy.

  7. Now pardon again for my bluntness, a spectrum is not a dichotomy. 

    And the thing you point out at the end is not a fallacious false dichotomy.  You clearly have no idea what that is, but think you do.  I know something about that stuff.  I say, look it up in a book.  I'll repeat again quickly: a false dichotomy is not a dichotomy which is not true.  If you don't get that, or don't know what I'm talking about, then look it up. 

    We can for the most part, baring needlessly obtuse, sophomoric or disingenuous hairsplitting, agree that the Republicans are on the right (some more than others) and the Democrats are on the left (some more than others). 

    I apologize your comments don't get posted sooner.  There is some problem with the spam filter.

  8. I'm beginning to suspect that there are only two types of people in the world, those who understand false dichotomies and those who don't.

  9. The 1956 Republican platform included <a href="">these planks.</a>

    Nixon instituted wage and price controls, and Republicans in the Nixon years helped create the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
    In many respects (especially those of executive privilege, financial regulation, and taxation) the Obama Administration's policies are more conservative than those either of Eisenhower or Nixon.

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