Not a Centrist
Charles Krauthammer argues persuasively that Obama’s apparent centrism goes only so deep as pragmatism requires:
Take the foreign policy team: Hillary Clinton, James Jones, and Bush holdover Robert Gates. As centrist as you can get. But these choices were far less ideological than practical. Obama has no intention of being a foreign-policy president. Unlike, say, Nixon or Reagan, he does not have aspirations abroad. He simply wants quiet on his Eastern and Western fronts so that he can proceed with what he really cares about — his domestic agenda.
There’s a similar explanation for his senior economic team, the brilliant trio of Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, and Paul Volcker: centrist, experienced, and mainstream. But their principal task is to stabilize the financial system, a highly pragmatic task in which Obama has no particular ideological stake. …
Obama was quite serious when he said he was going to change the world. And now he has a national crisis, a personal mandate, a pliant Congress, a desperate public — and, at his disposal, the greatest pot of money in galactic history. (I include here the extrasolar planets.)
It begins with a near $1 trillion stimulus package. This is where Obama will show himself ideologically. It is his one great opportunity to plant the seeds for everything he cares about: a new green economy, universal health care, a labor resurgence, government as benevolent private-sector “partner.” It is the community organizer’s ultimate dream.
Obama’s objective, in other words, isn’t to tilt the deck to the left; it’s to turn the entire ship in that direction. Ships turn slowly, no doubt, but they go down quickly when ideology obscures real hazards in the water.