President Obama

Is Obama the Least Liberal Dem President?

Not a chance in hell. I have serious problems with this study by Keith Poole and taken at face value by Paul Krugman indicating that President Obama is the least liberal Democratic president in nearly a century.

For the sake of proving my point, let's take a quick look at the last two Democratic administrations. According to the study (and don't laugh too hard) President Clinton is more liberal than President Obama.


Clinton passed DADT. President Obama repealed it.

Clinton signed DOMA. President Obama stopped defending it in court and would sign a repeal.

Clinton flew 153,000 sorties into Iraq, bombed Iraq in '98, attacked Afghanistan, Somalia and Bosnia. President Obama ended the Iraq War despite military pressure to stick around, and he's in the process of wrapping up in Afghanistan.

Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall by signing the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act which established all of the financial institutions that crashed the economy. President Obama repaired the damage in part by passing an unprecedented $800 billion stimulus package with billions in "big government" spending.

On that note, Clinton declared "the era of big government is over" and continued to foster small government, deregulatory Reaganomics. President Obama is ending Reaganomics and defending the role of government.

Clinton began the overseas outsourcing boom in part by signing NAFTA. President Obama is ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Should I go on?

Clinton signed welfare reform into law. President Obama expanded Medicaid and SCHIP. Clinton failed to pass healthcare reform. President Obama passed it.

Etc, etc, etc.

Don't believe that study for a second. Sadly, many otherwise smart progressives will use this as fuel to justify their nearsighted view of the Obama administration's accomplishments.

  • jezebel

    The reality is –

    Obama is the most accomplished, progressive president in decades. Unbelievably, the only Americans fired up by the changes he’s ushered in are Republican HATERS hellbent on reversing them.

    President Obama delivered more sweeping, progressive change in his first 24 months than the previous two Democratic administrations did in 12 years. YES – OBAMA DID!

    Rachel Maddow reviews the legislative accomplishments of the past two years in the context of President Obama’s promises and personal priorities, and notes that the next two years will be about defending what they’ve done from Republicans bent on reversal.

    Yes, Obama did.

    He made health care accessible for all citizens & with the Medical Loss Ratio provision of the ACA we’re now working on affordable;

    He brought 100,000 troops home; Repealed DADT (We just had our first Naval “gay” kiss last year, woo-hoo!)He began & finished the UN “Libya” operation w/o a single US casualty; He took out dictator Moammar Gadhafi AND he brought closure to pain & anguish of many Americans by getting Bin Laden –

    A measure the former President couldn’t do in 8 years

    He secured sweeping financial reforms giving regulators powerful new tools to prevent another collapse (which the obstructionist GOP has been filibustering)

    He avoided another Great Depression with his stimulus measures putting the country back on a path towards recovery (you know the one – the stimulus all the GOP’ers took ribbon cutting pics with but then turned around to hypocritically bad-mouth);

    He delivered record tax cuts to the middle class being our nations biggest tax cutter while simultaneously slashing nearly $200 billion in corporate welfare;

    He prevented the collapse of the Big Three automakers saving more than 1 million jobs (Bush signed the auto-bail-out with President Obama’s urging);

    invested $200 billion in clean energy — an initiative bigger than John F. Kennedy’s moon landing & one that’s on track to double America’s capacity to generate renewable energy by the end of his first term; he improved pay parity for women and hate-crime protections for gays and lesbians – AND installed two young, female justices on the Supreme Court, leaving a liberal imprint on the court for generations.


    • jezebel

      And he did all of this despite –




      ^ republicans are nothing but spoiled bratty children throwing tantrums because they can’t have their way! They claim there platform is based on personal responsibility but the reality is they don’t give a damn about you or me or the working or middle class. All they care about is the top 1% rich & corps they’ve aligned themselves with & regaining power at all costs!

      Never satisfied faux-“progressive” wingnuts confuse Swing Voters into thinking there is no difference btwn R’s & D’s – so they continue voting in R’s to Congress – AND WE ALL KNOW THOSE ARE THE CORRUPT CORPORATE SHILLS CAUSING ALL THE PROBLEMS IN DC!

      The sad thing is the first faux “progressive” cry-whiners were really GOP TROLLS & unthinking people on the left who don’t do their own research fell for it hook, line & sinker.

      Faux “Progressives” Fire-Baggers are both crazy. The unfair, unfounded, criticism Obama gets is BEYOND RIDICULOUS.

      Imagine how much good President Obama could’ve done with a decent congress who didn’t fight him every step of the way on every issue!

      Obama/Biden 2012

  • GN

    Krugman, champion of NAFTA (!), says that the guy [who passed record-breaking stimulus, used federal money to bail out auto companies in a manner in which bondholders rather than just unions had to take the haircut, ushered in an expansion of Medicaid which is projected to encompass 10 to 15 million newly eligible people, cut the crack-powder sentencing disparity (and who has too many liberal accomplishments to list here)] is a conservative / Republican / whatever bullshit Krugman is pulling out of his ass this week in his gambit to, alongside the GOP, tell us to not believe our lying eyes, that black guy with the funny name is bringing DOOM and GLOOM and can’t shoot straight.

    In my personal opinion, I have no use for the fusty, self-important, inconsistent, and on this score, outright intellectually dishonest garbage from the self-important and unaccomplished Professional Left.

    Sick of people who got the Iraq War wrong (Greenwald) and NAFTA wrong (Krugman) self-annoint themselves as the new oracles of all that is acceptably left. No thanks, I’ll believe my lying eyes rather than this spin.

  • JMAshby

    It seems personal for Krugman at this point. It’s less about arguing for or against a policy position and more about trying to prove he’s right about everything.

  • ranger11

    There is no way that Obama is more conservative than Carter and Clinton. No way. These people are ridiculous.

  • KQµårk™

    Actually this is really a measure of the left base than anything else. The left base is more liberal than ever so the comparisons they draw are in that paradigm. They forget that Kennedy passed no major liberal legislation and that ever president would be called a war criminal today based on their ridiculous standards.

    • mistinguette grandison

      You should know that Harvy Lee Oswald was a left inger in favor of Castro.

      • KQµårk™

        I would certainly put an asterisk of some sort next to JFK’s presidency because it was so short but in several ways he ran to the right of Nixon on foreign policy because back then Republicans were more isolationists.

        The real truth is a comparison like this means absolutely nothing as the right left paradigm changes.

      • OsborneInk

        Actually, Oswald’s political motivations are unclear. By 1963 he was wavering between the extremist poles of anti-communism and anti-Americanism with the same troubled confusion we see in a person like Gabby Giffords’ shooter. It’s not clear who Oswald thought he was helping by killing JFK, or how he expected it to resolve the dissonance of his own disillusionment with communism.

  • ArrogantDemon

    Krugman again…

    Wasnt he and Bobby Reich going on saying America should just accept manufacturing was going away and would never to return, then you have Barack Obama, ushering in the biggest gains of manufacturing in 20 years……

    There havent been more positive legislation since LBJ and FDR, but its not enough to satisfy the PLs

  • holyreality

    Labels Schmabels all right ;)

    I tend to see President Obama resembling Ike more than the liberal icon FDR.

    His pragmatic soft leadership has turned us from the brink of disaster in such a gradual way that nobody noticed any big changes affecting everyday living.

    Ike was seen as weak, ineffective, and only after Happy Days entered syndication did Americans recall him fondly.

    Indeed, the President’s almost hidden actions recalls some of the most reasoned approaches the late JFK used in his day with the Soviets, cool as a cucumber sums up President Obama’s term, and he needs to run on his record because he will win on his record.

    This dovetails with the GOP straw-Obama they put up inside their bubble. As Bill Maher points out, the GOP runs against a Kenyan Socialist who takes cues from a decades deceased Saul Alinsky.

    But voters will see this strawman propped up and see that it is just that, and Obama will coast in on his success.

    That is unless the SCOTUS “decides” something, or God forbid, he gets caught in a shower with a 12 year old.

  • KQµårk™

    Obama is the most liberal president in my adult lifetime. Granted only Carter, Clinton and Obama have been the only Dem presidents.

    Like you said this is hugely counterproductive and you have the proof not just truth on your side.

    Krugman always had a bug up his but about Obama and reveres Clinton so he spins as such. It’s amazing to me how much cognitive dissonance is on the left these days.

  • OsborneInk

    Bear in mind that the data as presented don’t make this “most conservative Dem” case, which is why the study calls him “most moderate.” It’s folk like our friend at The Agonist who’ve made it about being the “most conservative Dem president since” whenever. Their own chart doesn’t put as much distance between Obama and other Dems as it does between Obama and Republicans. What we have here is not merely a subjective study, but a rush to redefine its conclusions subjectively, too.

    • drsquid

      Realize that at the Agonist, they have to dumb down their conclusions for the 65% who still say that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t kill JFK.

    • MagicLoveHose

      Big thing that gets overlooked in this study is the huge-ass gulf between every single Dem President and every single GOP President.

      Anyone making an argument that Obama is the least liberal, most moderate Dem President since WW2 based on this is welcome to do so – but ignoring that gap or treating it as insignificant is cherry-picking data and that’s not something someone does in good faith.

      Moreover, if the trend over 65+ years is towards more conservative, then blaming Obama for it is a symptom, not a cause and certainly not a cure. If we want a more liberal President, we need to figure out what’s causing the drift. Sadly, my pet theory is “money” and my pet solution is “I don’t have a clue.”

      • OsborneInk

        Your pet theory is correct and your pet solution is all too common.

  • nicole

    This needs to be said.

    Pres. Obama is the most liberal president in the lifetimes of most of those still alive and arguing politics.

    We can go down the line and do a comparison of Obama vs. every other president.

    But it isn’t necessary. Just look at his list of accomplishments.

    I wish people who should know better, such as Krugman, actually did know better. Then we would not constantly have to revisit the same issues over and over again.

  • John Conner

    Something tells me Cenk Uygur is at the dungeon AKA The Young Turks cable access styled set with a big box of tissues and a big bottle of lotion reading this study.

    • Miranda


    • incredulous72


    • ArrogantDemon


      Just….dude…..da fuck man

      You have a sick, sick mind

      Someone please pass the brain bleach

  • Guest

    Always looking on the bright side of life:
    maybe conservatives who feel revolted and betrayed by the spectacle of the degenerate Republican Party will at least consider voting Democratic again and not beating themselves up about it much.

    Maybe they’ll even get a little tingle of glee just thinking about how they’re infiltrating the Dems and the Dems don’t even know that they’re now actually the good old Republican Party of smug upper middle class businessmen and Elks Club members.

    So let’s not dismiss the “Hey, he’s actually a Republican at heart!” rationale. It might just get Obama re-elected and some of the Teabagger yahoos tossed out.

    A croc can dream…

  • i_a_c

    I saw that, too, Bob. And I agree 100%. I don’t buy that Clinton is more liberal than Obama, and I sure don’t buy that JFK is more liberal than LBJ. Obama is a center-left Democrat, no doubt about it. I would also say that Nixon may have been more liberal than he’s depicted in the chart.

    Obama is a center-left president, no doubt about it. There have been zero True Progressive presidents in our history. I’ve said before that while Krugman’s economic analysis is very good, his political analysis is very spotty.

    So yeah, just more pseudo-intellectual crap that “proves” that Barack Obamney is the same as Pawlenty, or some such thing.

  • Camel54

    It really is pointless and inaccurate to wholly encompass any president under one large label anymore. From decision to decision they can vary in their level of liberal v. conservative in myriad ways. The problem with trying to categorically pigeonhole someone like this is it creates the need for things like Fox News where every decision has to be liberal because the man is liberal therefore we must disagree with everything he does–even when we agreed with it last year or proposed the idea ourselves five years ago. It gives us no room to say the president made a poor decision on this although I applaud his decision to do that. When you remove the nuance, you remove the critical thinking, and when you do that, you give into the mentality that Fox, Republicans, and Frank Luntz desire most.

    I love the fact that this president does things to represent people I don’t always agree with because we are a diverse nation, and if the president did everything right according to my judgment, there’s no reason I couldn’t do his job, and we’d be in huge trouble then because I’m not qualified. Besides, in those times when Republicans win the election, wouldn’t we be happier if that person were smart enough to use progressive ideas sometimes because they’re smart and not avoid them because of their labels?

    Stupid, worthless, counterproductive study and certainly careless of Prof. Krugman to use it.

    • stacib23

      if the president did everything right according to my judgment, there’s no reason I couldn’t do his job, and we’d be in huge trouble then because I’m not qualified.

      This times 10000. If more people accepted this as true, we would have fewer whiners and a lot more appreciation for what this president has accomplished.

  • nicole

    Unbelievable. And I am pissed off at Krugman.

    He knows he has political power. He should make sure he gets it right.

    Half-assed idiots with nary a damn clue.

    • IrishGrrrl

      Agreed, I normally respect what Krugman has to say but the whole conversation is unhelpful and a waste of time. Labels, schmabels at this point.

  • incredulous72

    Who are these pseudo-political scientists that are trying to push these alternate reality memes?! Poole who?! Krugman should be ashamed of himself.

    Obama least liberal president . . . that’s rich.

  • Corebela

    Even if that were true, (which it isn’t) I don’t see why It matters all that much as long as he is doing the right things, which I think he is. I think that should only really matter to short sighted people who only care about labels. Just saying he is moderate doesn’t take away the fact that he repealed DADT. And just saying he is liberal doesn’t take away the fact that he kept the Bush tax cuts and used republican idea’s in the PPACA. (although to anyone paying slight attention these were obviously the right choices to make.) My point is people should really be focusing on what he has done and says he will do, as opposed to what label he has hanging over his head. I know that logic doesn’t work for the insane left morons but I don’t think any logic works on any wingnuts of either side anyway.

  • James Laing

    I’d agree, Clinton was the most Liberal GOP president in my lifetimeso he lived with a different yardstick;-)

    • KQµårk™

      Clinton did two liberal things. First was he increased taxes but after Gingrich became speaker he lowered capital gains taxes. Second he created SCHIP, kinda, actually Teddy Kennedy created SCHIP. You can say reducing the military was liberal but he still had far more interventions than Obama. Let us all not forget Clinton invented extraordinary intervention and fired cruise missiles at OBL (not that I disagree with those two methods to fight terroris if done judiciously) and ramped up the drug war with the crazy mandatory sentences.