Thomas Frank: Obama is a socialist 

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Thomas Frank criticizes overblown rhetoric about President Obama’s so-called “socialism.” It’s a good idea, because the term is thrown around far too loosely, and conservatives usually just use it to be inflammatory.

Unfortunately, Frank writes his entire article about a term but never defines it, even as he criticizes others for not defining it. On top of that, he revives the same straw man that is so typical of Thomas Frank columns by giving the strong implication that anyone uncomfortable with dramatic government expansion prefers Enron leaders and Wall Street CEOs run amok.

But worst of all, he unwittingly lays the groundwork for the argument that Obama is a socialist. Here’s Frank, trying to explain why Obama is not a socialist — a reasonable proposition — and not doing a very good job of it:

“the term “socialist” [does not] fit the president well… If the president were actually a socialist in the Western European sense, he would certainly have pushed for single-payer health care, he would surely have gotten tough with the banks during the financial crisis, and he would undoubtedly have launched a massive program of public works instead of last year’s halfhearted stimulus package.”

Is it me, or did Frank just outline the agenda for Obama’s first term, which has met with varying degrees of success and cooperation from Congress? And in the case of the  health care bill, didn’t Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., among others, state that the public option is a necessary step on the road to a single-payer system? Dare I say this is true because Americans aren’t “socialist” enough to accept it straight-up?

I remain unconvinced that there’s any truth — or at least any point — in labeling Obama a “socialist,” but Thomas Frank seems bent on convincing me otherwise.

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