Tories, Republicans, Obama

Maybe my roots are showing. One striking facet of many European conservatives and British Tories is their relative comfort with an Obama presidency, compared with American Republicans. Check out this little blog post by British Tory Daniel Hannan. Here's a classic foreign view worth airing:

Consider, more or less at random, some of [Obama]'s policy positions. He wants to cut corporation tax. He plans (disappointingly) to grant immunity to telephone companies that help the federal government to eavesdrop on its citizens. He seems to have dropped any notion of criminalising the private ownership of guns, and made no protest when the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia's ban on pistols last week. Having made some protectionist noises in order to appeal to the know-nothing Pennsylvania Democrats in advance of their primary, he has returned to reaching the virtues of free trade with an enthusiasm matched by few Republicans.

A couple of days ago, he made a lengthy speech about patriotism, his lapel sporting the little flag that has become a permanent fixture. He is even - again, rather to my disappointment - watering down his commitment to remove the garrison from Iraq.

Like many Tories, Hannan regards the Iraq adventure as foolish utopianism - not a criterion for right-wing credentializing. He doesn't share American conservatism's culture-specific love of guns and gun culture. So what's not to like? Here's the first reader response from an American:

You forget that he has the hallmark of a true leftie: he supports abortion. In fact, he believes an unwanted pregnancy to be a punishment. He also has leanings towards same-sex marriage (though doesn't fully endorse it), and favours embryonic stem cell research.

But British conservatives don't regard first trimester abortion rights as a right or left issue; and, as in most other civilized countries, Brits now uncontroversially embrace legal rights for gay couples. Toryism is also agnostic on embryonic stem cell research. So remove the Christianist elements of Republicanism, assume that conservatism has some interest in fiscal responsibility (no longer true of the GOP, alas), and why exactly should a Tory fear Obama?

In a British context, Obama is a one-nation Tory. Not a Thatcherite, to be sure, but well within the historic boundaries of British conservatism. Maybe that's why I don't fear him in the slightest. And I don't think of myself as in any way a lefty either.