Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is Obama Liberal?

I spoke with Bob Dutko Friday to let him know that he's mistaken to equate Obama with liberalism. Download link is here. I'm going to also embed it just for fun. Listen below.

My last interaction with Bob was modestly hostile, so this time I thought I'd call about a subject that was maybe less likely to provoke hostility. So I went with politics. It was good and friendly.

I didn't win in this situation in terms of the way it comes across, but I'm totally fine with that. It's tough when he dominates the microphone by spinning the issue and I just don't have time to correct. For instance I pointed out that Americans generally support single payer style health care while Obama nixed it. He says something like "I would argue that this only shows that single payer is a liberal policy and the American people are liberal on that. This doesn't mean Obama isn't liberal, it means the American people are liberal." What the? What's needed here is a definition of what I mean when I say someone is liberal. I'd have loved to do that, but I have to apportion my time.

When I point out that Obama is expanding the war in Afghanistan, the surveillance state, and he's enacted an assassination policy, Bob interrupts to say "But you get no argument from me on that because I agree with him on all of that." Yeah, I know you do. That's not the point. The point is this is not liberalism. But I didn't get a chance to say that.

Notice also that I barely get started even describing why I'm saying what I'm saying and he interrupts to offer a long opening salvo rebutting my position, which I haven't even yet set forth. Obviously he sees "Jon in Commerce" in queue and he went and formulated an argument during the first commercial to offer a pre-emptive strike. Which is fine, but I just think it kind of shows why it's going to be tough, because this cuts in to time.

But really I'm happy about the call because I think it's the kind of call that can provoke thinking by Bob and his listeners. Bob lives in the Fox News cocoon where everybody hates liberalism. He knows that he holds many minority views, but I don't think he understands the full extent of how contrary his views are to the bulk of the American people. So he thinks people don't really want European style care. They do.

After my call Bob talked more about our call after the break. That's good because I know it's provoking thinking. Here's the audio of that discussion. He discovers that yes, there are indications that single payer is popular, though he says other polls show it's not supported by majorities. That's cool. I think he's gotten a little perspective that he didn't have before. Hopefully some of his listeners have as well.


Just wanted to provide some sources on the public support for single payer health care. In addition to polls that I discuss here another good source for a variety of polling data is here. Great info also at wikipedia.

Update II:

Bob claimed that Obama was rated the most liberal senator by National Review. I suspect he meant to say the National Journal. But that claim is misleading. Factcheck has the details here. In sum he was the most liberal according to the 2007 rankings. He was ranked 16 and 10 the prior years, meaning he was not the most liberal during his entire Senate career. Also the way the rankings are done may have skewed the 2007 ranking. The value is based on the % of time a Senator voted on the liberal side of an issue. In 2007 Obama missed a lot of votes. This probably affected the ranking. Details here. I stand by my argument though even if Bob's claim was accurate based on Obama's actual policy contrasted with public opinion, but it's worth noting the basis for Bob's claim.

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