He’s Ezra Klein and he’s smarter than us (just ask him).
Liberals are always trying to place themselves in the center. Washington Post business columnist Ezra Klein tried out the old saw on Tuesday that just as Bill Clinton described himself pejoratively as an “Eisenhower Republican,” Barack Obama isn’t a socialist, he’s a moderate Republican of the George H.W. Bush era:
Perhaps this is just the logical endpoint of two years spent arguing over what Barack Obama is — or isn’t. Muslim. Socialist. Marxist. Anti-colonialist. Racial healer. We’ve obsessed over every answer except the right one: President Obama, if you look closely at his positions, is a moderate Republican of the early 1990s. And the Republican Party he’s facing has abandoned many of its best ideas in its effort to oppose him.
If you put aside the emergency measures required by the financial crisis, three major policy ideas have dominated American politics in recent years: a plan that uses an individual mandate and tax subsidies to achieve near-universal health care; a cap-and-trade plan that attempts to raise the prices of environmental pollutants to better account for their costs; and bringing tax rates up from their Bush-era lows as part of a bid to reduce the deficit. In each case, the position that Obama and the Democrats have staked out is the very position that moderate Republicans have staked out before.
Klein has a huge “but” in this theory — if you leave out the massive stimulus program and TARP and taking over the auto industry, he’s not a socialist.