It has become very popular for liberals to declare — often with a very sad sigh — that Barack Obama is a pragmatist, not a liberal. Personally, that strikes me a lot like someone stridently insisting that his kitty, Twinkles, is a cat, not a domesticated feline.
It’s a distinction without much meaning in today’s world.
Being a political pragmatist, after all, simply means looking for reality based solutions to public problems, instead of slavishly following ideology.
But as liberal bloggers have been pointing out for years, reality these days has a decidedly left wing bias. If you accept the scientific reality of global warming, for example, the pragmatic thing to do is to adopt progressive policies on energy conservation and alternative energy sources. Similarly, if you accept the reality that the Bush-Cheney theory of foreign relations — to speak loudly and constantly bang the wrong people with a big stick — is dumb, pragmatism demands that you adopt a more diplomacy based — in other words progressive — foreign policy.
Accepting the reality that the anti-regulatory fetishism of the last 30 years has junked our economy, necessarily demands the pragmatic step of returning to a more regulated (and thus more progressive) economic worldview. We could go on with this forever, but you get the point.
You bet Barack Obama is a pragmatist, thank goodness. And, by definition, that means that most of his policies will be fundamentally liberal.
Because in today’s world, being a bleeding heart liberal is the only pragmatic way to go.