Yesterday, the Associated Press published an article that tried to debunk the notion that President Barack Obama has socialist leanings and paint Republicans who have called him a “socialist” as foolish. The article also insinuated that when Republicans call Obama a “socialist,” they are slurring him with racial overtones.
Besides Obama’s policies — like Obamacare — and regulations that touch upon everything from the environment to the lunches kids eat at school, giving more power to the government and unelected bureaucrats, where could Republicans possibly have gotten the idea that Obama could be a socialist?
Well, how about from the mainstream media itself?
In February of 2009, Newsweek’s covered declared, “We Are All Socialists Now.” Jon Meacham penned the cover piece, wherein he said that America would become more like France, something which, if said by a conservative, would have surely been interpreted by the likes of the Associated Press as a “slur.”
Of course, the AP ignores that in their article, author David Crary writes, “When President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign unveiled its new slogan, some conservative critics were quick to pounce” by calling him a “socialist.”
The writer then craftily, in order to plant the race card in the minds of his readers, immediately writes that “this is a far from a new phenomenon,” since “the use of ‘socialist’ as a political epithet in the U.S. dates back to pre-Civil War days when abolitionist newspaper editor Horace Greeley was branded a socialist by some pro-slavery adversaries.”
There you have it. The writer is setting his readers up to make the link between pro-slavery forces who used the word “socialist” and Republicans who use the term today.
The writer quotes a political scientist who says “socialist” is gaining “currency as an anti-Obama slur” because the “‘L’ word (liberal) has lost it shock value” and the socialist Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who said in 2009, the same year the Newsweek cover came out, that “branding someone as a socialist has become the slur du jour by leading lights of the American right from Newt Gingrich to Rush Limbaugh.”
The writer then quotes a historian who says the revival of claims of “socialism” has everything to do with “the animosity toward Obama that is shared by a certain segment of Americans.” Of course, Obama’s actual policies, in the mind of the historian who is quoted, have nothing to do with people believing that he’s a socialist.
The author continues that to “many historians and political scientists — and to actual socialists as well — the persistent claim that Obama is a socialist lacks credence,” because “he’s widely seen as a pragmatist within the Democratic Party mainstream who’s had ample success raising campaign funds from wealthy Wall Street capitalists.”
In other words, Obama is not socialist enough to them.
Then, after demonizing Republicans for calling Obama a socialist, the writer quotes Greg Pason, national secretary of the Socialist Party USA. Pason says while “it makes no sense” to call Obama a socialist, he has been pleased that the country is learning more about socialism. Crory introduces the factoid, “The Pledge of Allegiance — the epitome of American patriotism — was written by a socialist,” attempting to to link patriotism and socialism in the minds of his readers. He then also writes that “socialism lacks the contentious overtones that it has in America” in much of the world and cites the new French president, Socialist Francois Hollande, and Western Europe, which “adheres to socialist-style policies that endure under a variety of governing parties.”
The writer saves his biggest whopper of a comparison for last, when he writes Canada, whose residents come to America when they need urgent health care, “resembles the U.S. in so many ways, has a universal health care system and its main opposition party, the New Democrats, is union-backed and has socialist roots.”
He then quotes conservative Stanley Kurtz who says, “Obama’s plans are designed to ensnare the country in a new socialism, a stealth socialism that masquerades as a traditional sense of fair play, a soft but pernicious socialism similar to that currently strangling the economies of Europe.” He also quotes Ken Blackwell, who says, “My fundamental belief is that he wants to transform our market economy into a government-controlled economy — not far afield from European-style socialism,” and American Enterprise Institute scholar Steven Hayward, who says that while Obama is not a socialist in the strictest, dictionary definition of the term (government controlling all means of production and distribution), “socialism has a secondary meaning that is harder to explain — government regulations, supervision of the private economy … The problem now with Obama is, ‘What does he really think?'”
But the conservatives are quoted to advance the author’s premise that conservatives are torn about what exactly a socialist is instead of focusing on their concerns about how Obama’s policies are spiraling the country down Europe’s misguided path because doing so would debunk the writer’s intent in the article, which is to advance the narrative that Republicans who call Obama a “socialist” are slurring him. The writer does not discuss Obama’s associations with radical leftists and socialists who propelled his rise in politics in Chicago, an aspect from his past the mainstream media failed to vet during the 2008 election and which Breitbart News is vetting because Obama’s past seems like prologue when it comes to his leftists leanings.
The writer then cites The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein, to whom no problem cannot be solved by a government and bureaucracy filled with well-credentialed intellectuals like himself. Klein once wrote an article which stated, “If President Obama is truly a socialist,””then he’s not a very good one.”
In essence, the only thing that was clear in this article from the purportedly objective Associated Press is that when Republicans call Obama a socialist, they are slurring him, even though the writer seems to think socialism is not that bad. And, of course, when articles such as these quote liberals who think Obama isn’t as socialist as they would want him to be, it frames him as the centrist that he is not, making him more appealing to the independent voters he needs to retain in his column in November.
Tellingly, the article does not discuss Obama’s greatest vulnerability and the reason why many on the right refer to him as a socialist — his policies.