David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, Warren Buffet--all seem now sadly perplexed and disappointed that Barack Obama is not a moderate conservative, or even a moderate liberal.
Where did they ever get the idea that Barack Obama was a moderate?
Aside from such vapid locutions as: “post partisan,” “post racial,” “soft power,” “smart power,” that arguably don’t mean anything anyway, Barack Obama has been quite straightforward about his views and about what sorts of policies he would pursue if elected.
No one who has been paying attention should be surprised. And yet many are.
Those who believed that Barack Obama would magically tact to the center, or even the center-right, should have asked themselves: where, at what point in his education and professional career, would Obama have even been exposed to moderate or center-right philosophies and policies?
Did he study Hayek, Mises, Milton Friedman--or even Burke, Hume, Locke, and John Stuart Mill--at Columbia? If so, then most likely he was told that they were all members of the white male patriarchy, whose real agenda was to oppress capitalism’s victims.
And what, do you suppose, did he learn at Harvard Law?
Do you think that his professors and classmates were strict constructionists, opposed to judicial activism, or did Obama learn Critical Legal Theory at Harvard, the theory for which Harvard is famous, and which posits that law is merely a vehicle used by the powerful white oppressors to keep the poor and minorities down.
When Obama spoke, in 2001, of the constitution as a negative document that limits what the state can do but does not say what the state should do, such as redistribute wealth, he was speaking the language of Critical Theory. But the three Bs didn’t notice or didn’t care.
Would Obama have been exposed to moderate, or moderate-conservative views on economics, law, and foreign policy as a community organizer in Chicago? Or while working with Bill Ayers and attending Reverend Wright's church?
Many have defended Obama against the charge of guilt-by-association with respect to Ayers and Wright. I agree with Obama’s defenders: Obama is not guilty of Ayers crimes, nor can one assume that he shares Wright’s views. But this whole argument misses the really important point, which is not a matter of Obama’s guilt, but of his knowledge.
For what voices in Obama’s past were in competition with Ayer’s and Wright’s, with his professors at Columbia and Harvard Law, with his colleagues on the boards of left-wing foundations and among the radical Left of Chicago’s Democrat Party?
At what point in Obama’s life would he have learned that raising taxes during a recession is a bad thing; that appeasement doesn’t work and usually leads to war; that part of America’s exceptionalism stems from the fact that we are a nation of laws, and not of men: our belief that rights are not granted by governments, but are inalienable?
Obama is successful, at least in part, because he is fashionable—and none of the ideas in the preceding paragraph are currently fashionable.
Brooks, Buckley, and Buffet probably learned all of these things and internalized them and now take them for granted. Obama, very likely, did not.
For these ideas have been expunged and expurgated and “discredited” by the people who taught Obama. When Obama was exposed to these ideas—the legacy of classical liberalism--it was only to be told how wrong and evil they are and how much damage they have inflicted and how they must be replaced with the shiny new and exciting theories of the academic Left.
Obama was a good student; he absorbed the lessons he was taught. No one should be surprised.