A sidebar to the big NYT "outreach to the Taliban" interview with Prez O in today's paper offer insight into the president's heretofore unpricked media bubble. The short story is called (online, at least): "The President Is on the Line to Follow Up on Socialism." (In the print editition, the title only has the presdident calling "to Follow Up on an Answer"--!):
By JEFF ZELENY
WASHINGTON — Less than 90 minutes after Air Force One landed, the telephone rang. President Obama was on the line, wanting to add one more point to a response he gave during an interview with The New York Times.
On a flight from Ohio to Washington on Friday, Mr. Obama was asked whether his domestic policies suggested that he was a socialist, as some conservatives have implied.
"Some conservatives" haven't "implied" this; they've stated it. Personally, I prefer Marxist.
“The answer would be no,” he said, laughing for a moment before defending his administration for “making some very tough choices” on the budget.
As the interview progressed, Mr. Obama never returned to the question. When he called, he said he had been thinking about it as he boarded the helicopter taking him back to the White House.
“It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question,” Mr. Obama said from the Oval Office.
What a wealth of information spills forth from this statement! Obviously, the "S" question has never come up; obviously, this question violated the unstated parameters of Obama-MSM discourse; obviously, he was wholly unprepared for his rebuttal--hence the follow-up call. The Times story continues:
He then dismissed the criticism, saying the large-scale government intervention in the markets and the expansion of social welfare programs had begun under his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.
“It wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks,” Mr. Obama said. “And it wasn’t on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement, the prescription drug plan, without a source of funding.”
This is quite true, but drawing on the mantle of George W. Bush is no shield against charges of socialism. With his massive expansion of government and his massive intervention in the economy in his final months of office, Bush checked his capitalist credentials long ago. For Obama, this is more smoke and mirror time. Back to the story.
He added, “We’ve actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles, and some of the same folks who are throwing the word socialist around can’t say the same.”
This is called a Big Lie. If he says it enough, however, will "the people" believe him?
Mr. Obama has always sought to avoid being defined by labels, presenting himself as open to ideas from the left and the right. Asked to describe his philosophy in a word, he said, “No, I’m not going to engage in that.”
But his budget plan prompted criticism suggesting that he was intent on undoing the dominance of conservative ideas that started under Ronald Reagan, and that he had revealed himself as a free-spending liberal.
Mr. Obama pushed back against that characterization in the phone call and, in the process, issued one of the sharpest critiques that he has directed toward the Bush administration.
“By the time we got here, there already had been an enormous infusion of taxpayer money into the financial system,” he said, adding, “The fact that we’ve had to take these extraordinary measures and intervene is not an indication of my ideological preference, but an indication of the degree to which lax regulation and extravagant risk taking has precipitated a crisis.”
With that, the call from the president ended.