Eric Alterman on How Liberal President Obama Is

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In this Moyers Moment from Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers asks Eric Alterman to rank President Obama as a liberal on a scale from 1-100. The answer — and which Republican former President scores higher — may surprise you.


BILL MOYERS: On a scale of one to 100, as a measure of where someone stands, where do you put Obama as a liberal?

ERIC ALTERMAN: With-- with 100 being who?

BILL MOYERS: Roosevelt.

ERIC ALTERMAN: I put him about about 30.


ERIC ALTERMAN: 35. Yeah. In today's society, I would put him at about 55-60.

BILL MOYERS: Why the difference?

ERIC ALTERMAN: Because as a society, we've moved incredibly further to the right, since Roosevelt's time. So that Richard Nixon is more liberal than -- personally, not, but as president -- he's more liberal than Barack Obama. All of the plans he put forth. He was more liberal than Bill Clinton. His health care plan was a better--

BILL MOYERS: Richard Nixon?

ERIC ALTERMAN: Yeah, oh, yeah.

BILL MOYERS: As president, right?

ERIC ALTERMAN: Yeah, yeah, Obama-- Obama is really quite similar to Dwight Eisenhower. Both in terms of the role of government and how government should be -- well, what it can accomplish. You know, this really interesting thing about-- that I hope I do justice to -- in this book, which is that when Obama became president and he passed the stimulus program, and people -- liberals -- were criticizing him, he said, "What are you talking about? This is the largest government intervention in the economy we've had since Eisenhower."

And then when he did the deal with -- the deficit deal -- just last year, he bragged that this was the smallest government involvement in the economy since Eisenhower. So he made exactly the opposite argument he made, that he thought he was getting elected to do.There's something about our society. And I don't think it's really the country. I think it's more our politics. I think our politics are much further to the right than the country is. And that's -- you know, that's an important fact. But there's something about our political system, dominated as it is by money and by corporations and by the elite media that beats down the liberalism in Democratic presidents.

Watch the entire conversation between Moyers and Alterman.

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