Some Answers For Progressive Conservatives

David Brooks is The New York Times’ idea of what a conservative should be, because, as the columnist explains, he is what he says is a progressive conservative. To across-the-board Reagan conservatives, the term progressive conservative is an oxymoron, but nevertheless Brooks has company at what he perceives as the center and correctly describes as the “silly spot” on the political map. Some other progressive conservatives are David Frum, Peggy Noonan, Christopher Buckley, Kathleen Parker and Colin Powell.

Brooks and his fellow progressive conservatives are having some difficulty explaining how Sen. Barack Obama, the promising moderate candidate they all fell in love with, became Barack Obama the leftist president who can’t seem to govern very well:

The country had just elected a man who vowed to move past the old polarities, who valued discussion and who clearly had some sympathy with both the Burkean and Hamiltonian impulses. He staffed his administration with brilliant pragmatists whose views overlapped with mine, who differed only in that they have more faith in technocratic planning.

Yet things have not worked out for those of us in the broad middle. Politics is more polarized than ever. The two parties have drifted further to the extremes. The center is drained and depressed.

What happened?

History happened. The administration came into power at a time of economic crisis. This led it, in the first bloom of self-confidence, to attempt many big projects all at once. Each of these projects may have been defensible in isolation, but in combination they created the impression of a federal onslaught.

History did indeed happen, but Barack Obama’s history did not begin when he started running for president, as progressive conservatives seem to believe. It’s not like less confused conservatives did not try to warn them.

In his memoir, Barack Obama, Jr. describes his mother as “a lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism.” His father had essentially turned his back on the religion of Islam in favor of that of Karl Marx. His mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, wrote for a communist newspaper and was a member of the Communist Party USA. As a college student, Obama wrote that he sought the company of leftist radicals, and as a community organizer, he was trained in, and later taught, the methods of radical leftist Saul Alinsky. As he launched his political career, Obama sought the help of more radical leftists, including Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn and Alice Palmer. In his quest for the Illinois Senate, he sought and won the endorsement of the New Party, a coalition of Marxists and DSA Socialists. As a U.S. Senator, Obama allied himself with MoveOn.org and was named the most liberal member of the Senate in 2007 by National Journal magazine, with a score that put him to the left of even socialist Bernie Sanders. And for 20 years, Obama attended a church pastored by the radical Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a proponent of Marxist Liberation Theology. With such a history, how could Brooks and the other progressive conservatives expect Barack Obama to govern as a centrist?

The silly Brooks notion that Obama staffed his administration with “brilliant pragmatists” is another thing Reagan Conservatives are at a loss to understand. The president has, in fact, populated his administration with radicals. For his “Science Czar,” Obama chose John Holdren, a proponent of forced abortion and sterilization, who recommends “de-development” of the United States and redistribution of the wealth of its citizens. Kevin Jennings, Obama’s pick for Safe Schools Czar, was the founder and former executive director of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s first choice for Assistant Attorney General, is such a proponent of unrestricted abortion that she has said that said the idea to make abortion rare (as well as safe and legal) is “nonsensical.” Eric Holder, Obama’s Attorney General, had a role in granting clemency to 16 FALN terrorists and in the pardon of tax-evader Marc Rich. Hilda Solis, his Secretary of labor, voted against protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. Ray Lahood, Obma’s liberal Republican Transportation Secretary, believes the Electoral College is antiquated and ought to be abolished. Van Jones, his first choice for Green Jobs Advisor, believes the government intentionally allowed the 9/11 attacks and led an organization which describes itself as “communist.” Cass Sunstein, the Obama pick to head up the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, advocates health care rationing and granting legal standing to animals. Mark Lloyd, Obama’s FCC Chief Diversity Officer, believes that freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, “is all too often an exaggeration.” White House Energy Czar Carol Browner argues that allowing domestic oil and natural gas drilling in the outer continental shelf “would do little to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.” These are just a few of Brooks’ “brilliant pragmatists.”

If Brooks can’t figure out “what went wrong,” he needs to ask Jennifer Rubin, who can provide the NY Times columnist with a simple, easy to understand explanation:

Obama, a very liberal politician, was smart enough to know he couldn’t win the presidency as a hard leftist. He posed as a moderate. New York Times columnists sung his praises. Pundits assured us that he was beyond ideology, a sort of philosopher-king with very neat pants. He got into office. He governed from the far Left. The president signed bill after bill, spending money we didn’t have and running up the debt. Obama insisted on a mammoth health-care bill the country hated. He egged Congress on to pass it. Meanwhile, the country recoiled. They hired a moderate on advice of pundits and media mavens and got a far-Left liberal, a ton of debt, an expanded federal government, and a slew of new taxes.

How’s that?

The bottom line: history doesn’t just “happen.” Presidents make choices. Pundits make miscalculations. Voters exact revenge. It’s not that complicated — if you are honest about who did what to whom.

- JP

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