25 November 2008

Shorter New(speak) York Times

Obama Tilts to Center, Inviting a Clash of Ideas

  • Orthodoxy is diversity

The prophets and practitioners of Broderist Magical Centrism have wasted little time in applauding the incoming president's hassle-free embrace of center-right Beltway conventional wisdom. Obama is following the blueprint perfectly, eschewing "ideology" (i.e., dirty hippies) for "pragmatism" (i.e, the same shuffling of ruling elites that's been going on for decades). It is, of course, absurd to suggest that Obama is surrounding himself with a Lincolnesque "team of rivals;" every selection so far has come from the same centrist mold. Somehow, even though the actual proposals of Magical Centrists can be reliably guessed, it is not an ideology itself. Glennzilla, in his usual perceptive way, explains.

If one discards the need for ideology in favor of "pragmatism" and "competence" -- as so many people seem so eager to do -- then it's difficult to see how one could form any opinions about questions of this sort beyond a crude risk-benefit analysis (i.e., "pragmatism"). Are there military and economic benefits to be derived for the U.S. from invading Pakistan? Bombing Iran? Lending unquestioning support to Israel? Escalating our occupation of Afghanistan? Remaining indefinitely in Iraq and exploiting their resources? Propping up dictators of all types? Deposing Hugo Chavez? Torturing suspected terrorists for information, or detaining them without process? If so, then those who are heralding "pragmatism" as the supreme value -- or at least something that should trump "ideology" -- would have no real basis to oppose those actions. It is only ideological beliefs that permit opposition to those polices even if they are "beneficial" to our "national self-interest."
This gets to it. The ruling class can't be constrained by "ideology," whether its right or left, because that would place limits on how much it could act out of its own self-interest, which is truly the only ideology it's concerned with. It may seem odd to hear such denigration of anyone with political principles, until you realize that this is the only way the Beltway class can reliably get what it wants.

The search for pragmatism, naturally, is also a bottomless rabbit hole. Magical Centrism always has the pragmatic solution to every problem. There's no reason for Obama to have any lefties on his team, because The Left by definition never has a solution that works. He is only doing us a favor; making government work more efficiently by cutting out the middleman and listening only to the MC's.