On the 'Extremist Middle'

Sam Smith, writing for the Progressive Review's Undernews blog:

Liberals also seem to have little idea of how much the politics of the Democratic Party has changed over time. It is fair to say, for example, that the two most conservative Democratic presidents since Grover Cleveland have been Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They were the first Democratic presidents in over a century who actually reversed previous Democratic positions such as Clinton’s attack on social welfare and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial and investment banking which greatly helped lead to the recent financial crisis. Obama, for his part, has taken a score of traditionally anti-liberal positions ranging from supporting torture and massive illegal wiretapping to favoring the bailout of banks over the bailout of ordinary Americans. [...] Having had a father in the New Deal, been an activist beginning in the 1960s and covered Washington over five decades, I had some historical consciousness of what was happening that wasn’t easily apparent. After all, Frances Perkins told FDR in 1930s she wouldn’t become his secretary of labor if he didn’t support a minimum wage, a 40 hour work week, pensions, and single payer healthcare. How many Democrats can you name who would say that today if offered a job by Barack Obama? Like I always say, the reality is Democrats and Republicans aren't that different: they effectively feed from the same (corporate) trough.