President Obama says he’s hoping to get to visit Cuba. Not only that, but he had kind words for communist dictator Raul Castro, the brother of Fidel.
“I am very much interested in going to Cuba, but I think the conditions have to be right,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner. “”My hope is that sometime next year we look at the conditions there and we say, you know what? Now would be a good time to shine a light on progress that’s been made, but also maybe to nudge the Cuban government in a new direction.”
How is that possible? The Castros have ruled the small island nation under the strict doctrine of communism since before Obama was born. What makes him think he can change Raul?
“I do see in him a big streak of pragmatism. In that sense, I don’t think he is an ideologue,” Obama claimed.
There it is again.
For years, President Barack Obama and a great majority of his supporters classified him as a pragmatist, not an ideologue.
During his first presidential election, the term “pragmatist” was continually used to describe the radical senator from Illinois. In May of 2008, the New York Times ran a headline that read, “Pragmatic Politics, Forged on the South Side.”
They wrote about how he went from a little known state senator who “was so little-known in the community’s black neighborhoods that it was hard to find more than a few dozen people to walk with him, ” to a United States Senator:
The secret of his transformation, which has brought him to the brink of claiming the Democratic presidential nomination, can be described as the politics of maximum unity.
He moved from his leftist Hyde Park base to more centrist circles; he forged early alliances with the good-government reform crowd only to be embraced later by the city’s all-powerful Democratic bosses; he railed against pork-barrel politics but engaged in it when needed; and he empathized with the views of his Palestinian friends before adroitly courting the city’s politically potent Jewish community.
To broaden his appeal to African-Americans, Mr. Obama had to assiduously court older black leaders entrenched in Chicago’s ward politics while selling himself as a young, multicultural bridge to the wider political world.
Essentially, he was everything to everyone. He became whatever the people he was talking to wanted in a candidate.
Some would call that a phony. Others call it “pragmatic.”
Over and over again, Obama said he was a “pragmatist.”
This cliche is so often used, it merited its own chapter in Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches.
“Conservatives and libertarians … are honest about our ideology,” he told Real News. “We say have an ideology. We have a set of principles. We have an approach to politics. Liberals, on the other hand, refuse to concede that they have an ideology. They constantly, as President Obama said in his inaugral saying, ‘I only care about what works. The issue isn’t big government/small government, but what works.”
“As Jonathan Chait, a New Republic writer famously had this piece, ‘Liberals are simply pragmatists and empiricists and fact finders. They care about sound science and all the rest, and the simple fact is, they’re lying. And they’re lying first and foremost to themselves. It is, in fact, impossible not to have a world view or an ideology.”
That is what an ideology is, after all — a world view, or to be specific, “a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.”
Obama and his supporters want us all to believe he isn’t an ideologue, or someone who holds fast to a specific ideology. He’s for what works, and that’s it.
That’s hard to square with comments like this:
During a primary debate, he was asked by ABC’s Charles Gibson if he would raise the capital gains tax even if he knew that cutting it would generate more revenue for the government. The non-ideologue responded that raising the tax, even if doing so would lower revenue, might be warranted out of “fairness.”
So much for being all about what works.
And what about this comment from Raul Castro makes him pragmatic:
“I was not chosen to be president to restore capitalism to Cuba,” Raul Castro declared in 2013. “I was elected to defend, maintain and continue to perfect socialism.”
It’s obvious that Castro holds fast to the Marxist ideology. It’s also clear that Obama holds fast to a progressive ideology.
So why would anyone believe they are pragmatists? Why would Obama think Castro would consider “what works” if it meant rejecting communism?
Feel free to tell us in the comments, but consider this when you do. Goldberg wrote in The Tyranny of Cliches, “Pragmatism is the disguise progressives and other ideologues don when they want to demonize competing ideologies.”
Agree or disagree?
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