Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Ideological Moment

Here's a twenty-second video that captures an ideological moment.  It's Obama parrying a challenge from Republicans on C-Span last Friday by explaining that he isn't the doctrinaire ideologue they take him for.  His evidence? He's willing to entertain their suggestions about how to realize his priorities most economically. Were Washington a less dysfunctional place, Obama implies, Republicans would return the favor by being less stingy with their suggestions and their support.  You can hear the Republicans chuckling in the background.

This is like a two-handed ideological card game with each player trying, but failing, to maintain a poker face.  Liberals and conservatives each give every appearance of thinking that they have the better hand because they take a different view of what counts as the strong suit.  Liberals like their cards when they see how effortlessly Obama demonstrates that he's the smartest guy in the room.  (See, e.g., this post from Matthew Yglesias.)  Conservatives like theirs because they're convinced that this center-right nation sensibly prefers conservative priorities to liberal priorities.  (See, e.g., this post by Fred Barnes.)  They can't help noticing that liberals are always the ones explaining that they're not ideologues while conservatives are perfectly happy to pitch their values openly.

If you had to guess just on the basis of the above information, who would you say is more likely to be bluffing?

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