Politics

E.J. Dionne: ‘It’s just not easy being Barack Obama’

Liberal columnist E.J. Dionne appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday to elaborate on his Monday Washington Post column, which tried to explain what Dionne sees as the difficulty of determining exactly what President Barack Obama stands for.

Dionne blamed the president’s difficulties on everything from racism that “lurks beneath” to Obama’s own failed promise of being a national uniter to his coming at a time in history when the ideological goal posts have changed.

“I mean, the lede of the column was that Barack Obama might well identify with Kermit the Frog in that anthem he sings about being green: Because it’s just not easy being Barack Obama,” Dionne said. “I mean, he is crosswise to so many things in the country right now. In particular, he is presented by Republicans in Congress as some kind of ultra-left winger when people on this show know how often people on the left have been impatient with his efforts to get grand bargains. And Jim VandeHei was talking about John Boehner. If Joe Scarborough were in this particular Republican caucus, he would be seen as a socialist. I mean, this is a very different time that Obama has to govern in. So he’s trying to be a middle of the road liberal. And he’s cast as an ultra-leftist.”

Dionne blamed the conservative movement in America for Obama’s difficulties, claiming that ObamaCare is a more moderate approach to health care than some solutions offered by Republicans in previous times.

“Well, I think that there is a limit to his ability to define the agenda right now. It’s not so much his ability to define the agenda as his ability to define the political spectrum,” Dionne said. “What you have I think is a conservative movement in America that’s gone way to the right of where it used to be as Bob Dole said in that interview before the show. And then a lot of times, the media goes along with this redefinition of a political spectrum so someone who is a moderate liberal — look at his health plan. The health plan is not some big government takeover. It’s more conservative than Richard Nixon’s health plan. It’s more conservative than the late John Chafee, the moderate Republican’s health plan.”

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