… or so says a majority of American voters.
The Left has two choices when it comes to this news: Get all aflutter about the alleged extremism of right-wing/tea-party antistatism, or deny that the story is a story. Our old reliable friends at Salon do both:
The right has been screaming about Obama’s “socialism” since the summer of 2008 (at least) — long before he was elected, long before he was sworn in, and long before he signed a single piece of legislation. In other words, the right reached its conclusion before there was any evidence. (This is the “thinking with my gut” mentality that Stephen Colbert likes to mock.) I can’t immediately recall or find any polling from the ‘08 campaign about the Obama/socialism question. But it seems entirely possible that, even during that campaign, around 40 percent of the electorate would have described him as a socialist.
Steve Kornacki, you win today’s gold medal in the category of vaulting over irony. Let me help out here: There was, of course, evidence of what Barack Obama believed before he was elected president. He had a political career before that. Served in the Senate. Gave some speeches, wrote some books. Ran a primary campaign and a general-election campaign. Remember? But, if you are going to mock the Right for having “reached its conclusion before there was any evidence,” do not follow that sentence up with: “I can’t immediately recall or find any polling from the ‘08 campaign about the Obama/socialism question. But it seems entirely possible that, even during that campaign, around 40 percent of the electorate would have described him as a socialist,” which translates: “I reached my conclusion without any evidence.” That is the thinking with your … [whatever] … mentality that I like to mock.
Trying to cast doubt on the importance of the poll, Kornacki breaks out a recent liberal favorite: the poll that revealed that 18 percent of New Jersey conservatives believed Obama to be the Antichrist. Perhaps he is ignorant of the fact that a not-insignificant number of Americans interested in numerology once suspected that the Gipper was the beast described in Revelations, because each of his names — Ronald Wilson Reagan — has six letters. Kornacki’s obvious (and rather tedious) program here is to emphasize the alleged kookery in the conservative world (which has its share of it). but that same poll found that 5 percent of self-described liberals thought that Obama might be the Antichrist, and that 8 percent of the overall electorate affirmatively believed him to be the Antichrist. American kookery is bipartisan.
But is it kooky to call Obama a socialist?
Sure, if by socialist you mean Lenin or Kim Jong Il, or even Proudhon or Eugene V. Debs. If you mean somebody who believes that the government should exert significant political control over the commanding heights of the economy — such as finance and energy – and engage in some kind of economic central planning — such as a massive bureaucratic effort to reduce health-care spending as a share of GDP — whose ethic is basically redistributive, etc., then maybe it does not sound so kooky. And he does love him a good five-year plan.