What The Right Is Thinking

Krauthammer lays out Obama's "Ultimate Agenda":

His goal is to rewrite the American social compact, to recast the relationship between government and citizen. He wants government to narrow the nation’s income and anxiety gaps. Soak the rich for reasons of revenue and justice. Nationalize health care and federalize education to grant all citizens of all classes the freedom from anxiety about health care and college that the rich enjoy. And fund this vast new social safety net through the cash cow of a disguised carbon tax.

Obama is a leveler. He has come to narrow the divide between rich and poor. For him the ultimate social value is fairness. Imposing it upon the American social order is his mission.

My sense is not this, although I agree that Obama has a liberal's core instinct that government can and should take more responsibility for the well-being of its citizens than I'd like. What Charles misses is that Obama is not an ideologue the way Charles is. This is, in other words, classic projection.

Obama wants to use government to balance what he regards as the growing imbalance of the last three decades in which most Americans trod water or sank and, empowered by globalization, a small elite really triumphed. Seen in that context, the shift is less profound. Obama's modest healthcare proposals do not amount to "nationalization". His disguised carbon tax is a mistake in my view, but a response to a felt and urgent need. I see no rush to federalize education - certainly much less so than George W. Bush, whose much more radical involvement of the feds in education somehow escaped Krauthammer's censure.

In so far as conservatives keep reaching for ideological purity to gain their balance in this unsettling time, they will lose against a skilled pragmatist like Obama. They seek clarity by defining an "ultimate agenda" because they are so lost in responding to the actual one.