I've had the opportunity to do some radio interviews around the country on the election and the Supreme Court. What I have to say on the subject is summarized in this piece that I wrote for WI Interest.
A host on a syndicated show that I understand airs in Tennessee, Indiana and New Mexico asked me whether "technically, we can say that Barack Obama a Marxist?"
No, he's not. But, to the extent there is a consistent theme in his career, it is one that places him firmly on the left of American politics.
Much of his campaign has been focused on trying to obscure that. His public record is limited enough to be explained away as indeterminate. He's a guy who has never held one job for more than a few years and whose resume largely consists of aspiring to the next thing. This has certainly been an obstacle to his campaign, but, in a way, it has also been an advantage. It enables him to define himself.
If he was a leftist community organizer and someone who wrote an autobiography steeped in the presumptions of the left, it can be dismissed as a youthful interlude. If he chose as a spiritual mentor and father figure an intemperate, race-baiting radical, it was just something that grew out of his racially equivocal origin and search for his African-American identity. If he served on a board with an unrepentant terrorist and Marxist shoveling money to politicized and ill considered educational projects, it's just one little thing. Does he have a highly partisan and liberal voting record? That record is brief enough to be dismissed and we are asked to believe what he says and not what he's done.
The positions he has adopted for purpose of the campaign are generally way stations to more fully interventionist and redistributive policies. He has not proposed a single payer health plan, but the logic of what he as proposed - offering the federal plan as a guaranteed and subsidized alternative - will move us in that direction. He hasn't proposed tax increases for most of us, but his stated desire to use tax credits to spread the wealth plan and plans for new spending would require him to do so.
In addition, his rhetoric outpaces his position papers. He has promised to change the nature of our world and lots of his fans believe him.
That doesn't mean that he will try to govern in that way. Those who believe that he won't want to say that political expediency and his own intelligence (i.e., he's too smart to believe his own class warfare rhetoric)will moderate his policies. The report that he is making plans to "dampen expectations" sounds consistent with this view.
But, at the end of day, it makes more sense to judge a candidate by his past deeds and present rhetoric, rather than projecting onto to him or her some heretofore undemonstrated moderation. After years in the wilderness, the American left will expect this to be their time. They are likely to claim a mandate and, if they do, may promptly lose it.