Muscular politicking on steroids is the Obama way, whether the administration is bullying Chrysler bond-holders, wresting control of the Census from the Commerce Department, or empowering, at last count, as many as 31 "czars" to oversee various aspects of federal policy, from Gitmo closure "czar" Daniel Fried to executive pay "czar" Kenneth Feinberg, many without Senate confirmation. In explaining the full White House press on government-controlled health care, top Obama strategist David Axelrod could have been describing the Obama White House m.o. in general: "Ultimately, this is not about a process, it's about results." Which is just another way of saying the ends justify the means.
But what are those ends? My guess is that socializing the engines of wealth and creation in this county is itself a means to an end -- the consolidation of a new power structure derived from a government-dependent population and animated by the kind of identity politics exemplified by Sonya "wise Latina" Sotomayor, whose self-contradictory Senate testimony this week, by the way, perfectly tracks Axelrod's playbook. In the meantime, however, as the administration expands its control over the private sector, as it formulates foreign policy in harmony with that of Castro's Cuba, Chavez's Venezuela, and Ortega's Nicaragua, it's no stretch to say that Barack Obama is reshaping the USA in a distinctly socialist mold, something closer to a dictatorial workers' paradise than to cowboy-friendly Reagan Country.
But there exists a potent taboo against the S-word and other terminology essential for analysis. Jeb Bush's aversion to the term is typical. "Is Obama a socialist?" Tucker Carlson recently asked him in Esquire magazine.
Bush said he didn't know, and called the president a "collectivist." Same difference? Perish the thought. "Socialism is pejorative in America," Bush explained. "So people stop listening. People are tired of it. That word won't stick. It's a turnoff. It doesn't help."
"It's a turnoff"? It had better not be a turnoff. Because if we don't talk about it, we won't think about it -- until it's too late.