What you see is what you get

Parts of the Internet are abuzz with some dumb comments made by filmmaker and lefty gadfly Michael Moore about Presdient Obama “governing like a white guy.”

The racist nature of these comments aside, what continues to surprise me is how many people apparently thought they were electing a wild-eyed liberal when they voted for Obama. An entire minin-genre of writing has been dedicated to this “Obama betrayed us” lament. It’s surprising because anyone who paid attention to Obama’s speeches, voting record, books, etc. prior to the election would’ve realized that he’s essentially now what he always has been: a moderate, center-left pragmatist.

To be more specific, Obama appears to share the values or goals of many liberals, but he’s also committed to the path of cautious, incremental reform. Health care reform is a good example: despite overheated conservative rhetoric, the Affordable Care Act was actually an attempt to provide relatively modest, technocratic tweaks to the existing health insurance system. It was emphatically not a wholesale overhaul of the system, much less a “government takeover.”

That’s not to say that the President should be above criticism–far from it! But it’s helpful to keep in mind that Obama is governing pretty much as expected–if you actually see him for who he is, not who liberals wish he was.

UPDATE: It’s probably bad blog form to quote yourself, but to illustrate my point, here are a few things I wrote during the months leading up to the 2008 election and shortly thereafter (some of which, I humbly add, have been borne out by subsequent events):

Jan. 5, 2008 “I have so far been less impressed by Obama than some of my friends; his vaunted oratory which seemed to promise to magically transport us to a post-partisan, post-race, post-conflict happy land always struck me as so much hot air.”

Sept. 12, 2008 “I personally find Obama’s backpedaling on FISA and his disinclination to challenge head-on the Bush/GOP paradigm for foreign policy the most troubling. It’s also clear to me that Obama just doesn’t share my views on, say, the scope of U.S. interventionism.”

Oct. 8, 2008 “If anything, my worry about Obama is that he’ll be too pragmatic, too prone to compromise, and too beholden to the Washington bipartisan consensus on a host of matters.”

Dec. 30, 2008 “Obama has given little indication that he dissents in any radical way from the US consensus on foreign policy.”

Now, if even I could see at the time that Barack Obama was essentially a center-left moderate, how come Michael Moore, et al. persist in this “We voted for a liberal gut-fighter, but he turned out to be a conciliatory, deal-making moderate” line?

One thought on “What you see is what you get

  1. I also saw some of the things about Obama that you had – one reason I voted for Clinton ni the primary – but when I start feeling bitter I remind myself of what the republican alternatives were 🙂

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