Before I pick up where we left off before the Christmas break, let me first recap my last post. I asked why conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly does not think President Obama is a socialist but self-described socialist and MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell does.
Seems backwards, doesn't it?
O'Donnell even said that O'Reilly "lies" about what socialism is, adding that there isn't a capitalist country left in existence, and cited Newseek's infamous "We're all socialists now" cover to show how much in the mainstream that ideology really is.
I'm not sure what lies O'Donnell is referring to, as O'Reilly has gone out of his way to paint Obama as a Left-centrist--much to the chagrin of his conservative audience.
O'Reilly wrote that "as long as he isn't nationalizing industry or purloining private property, I don't think the socialist label is accurate."
Some might say that he is.
But what does Obama think about the label?
The New York Times asked him point blank if he's a socialist after the first six weeks of his presidency.
"The answer would be no," the president said.
The reporter pushed, asking if there's anything wrong with saying yes. Obama responded with a 400-word response in which no answer was provided. The reporter tried again.
"Is there a one-word name for your philosophy? If you're not a socialist, are you a liberal? Are you a progressive? One word?"
"No," Obama said. "I'm not going to engage in that."
After the interview, a miffed Obama felt the need to call the New York Times reporter back to clarify his ideology.
"It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question," he said, adding that he's been "operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles."
He better tell O'Donnell and Maher, because they think he's one of them.
Why is there so much confusion over this man's political views? Almost every other heavy hitter in politics is easily identifiable. Nobody disagrees that O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, Coulter, Palin, and Gingrich are conservatives and capitalists. Why, then, is the opposite label murky and controversial?
As a result of this country's history as the first small-government laissez-faire capitalist nation--the astounding success of which engenders a large amount of pride in its populace--conservativism and capitalism are our embedded, default values. Most Americans find the opposite view--socialism--to be unpalatable.
Consequently, in order to be politically successful, socialists need to mask their true identities.
"I know this about my country. Liberals are 20 percent of the electorate," O'Donnell said minutes after his famous socialism admission. "Conservatives are 41 percent of the electorate. So I don't pretend that my views, which would ban all guns in America, make Medicare available to all in America, have any chance of happening in the federal government."
He went on to say that the only reason a Chairman Barney Frank exists is because of Blue Dog Democrats, and blamed those who ran to the left of them for their heavy losses this November 2nd.
In short, he warned the Left not to outrun its cover. O'Donnell and Maher can freely admit their socialism and keep their jobs because they can stay on air by appealing to that far-Left niche. Obama, who needs 51 percent of the vote, has to be craftier.
And that, my friends, is why O'Reilly and O'Donnell aren't on the same page about Obama. It's why the one-dimensional political spectrum is flawed.
Simply put, the element of time is undefined.
A person can be a hard-core socialist while being realistic enough to see--like O'Donnell sees--that the country won't take it all in one sitting. To avoid a backlash, it must be fed to them slowly over time in small spoonfuls, mixed with some capitalism to make it go down smoother.
O'Reilly is focusing on the small spoonfuls, and--not seeing pure socialism--calls Obama center-Left. O'Donnell, the advocate of the incrementalist strategy, sees the spoonfuls as merely a tactic of Obama's to achieve the grand strategy of socialism in America.
In the end, they may not disagree after all--they may merely be seeing to aspects of the same thing.