The most influential "third way" politician of the 20th century was that famous Marxist theoretician, Italy's Benito Mussolini, the founder of Fascism. The idea seems to have enduring appeal to Leftists. But it always seems to end up as just another mask for the same old Leftist reliance on big government and coercion. And now Obama is playing that fiddle too. Few conservatives would see any substance in Obama's third-way claims. His actual policies all seem -- as far as one can tell -- to be boilerplate Leftism. The article excerpted below from a Left-leaning Australian writer does however buy the claim. He compares Obama to Australian centre-Leftists. Australian centre-Leftists do however exhibit a lot of genuine conservatism and I am at a loss to see any of that in Obama.
Now Barack has published a book with an improbable name. The Audacity of Hope. It has been a sales pitch for his presidential run, an attempt to make himself a crossover candidate for more progressive Republicans. Describing himself as a Christian and a sceptic, he distances himself from Huckabee by confirming his belief in evolution and stem cell research, but talks up a faith-based politics while defending secularism. It's a hard act in a society where religious and ideological differences have never been so emphasised and manipulated.
Obama became famous overnight when, in July 2004, the junior senator from Illinois (he's from Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, not Homer Simpson's) electrified the Democratic National Convention with a speech that sought to bridge the divide. And the book expands on all the themes of that address. I'm listening to the audio version, read by Obama with an energy and attack that's deeply impressive. If he weren't running for the presidency he'd be a contender for a Pulitzer in journalism. The political analysis of what he calls the dead zone of US politics is superb, as is the writing.
This is the classic third way argument, developed by Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, but with refinements. Most of all, Obama reminds me of Kevin Rudd in his views on the role of a social democrat party in a 21st century Western democracy. Their natural affinity was shown in Obama's congratulatory phone call to Rudd after his recent victory. If he wins the White House the two of them will be natural allies, capable of working more closely and more cordially than John Howard and George W. Bush....
On Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, Obama was a revelation. Not once in more than 50 years of watching telly had I seen a politician so utterly and seductively relaxed. Not the faux relaxation that most affect, it seemed to come from Obama's oft-stated view that he's learned to campaign without a fear of losing. If so, it's transformational, giving him a freedom of expression and a depth of humour that leaves Hillary and Mike Huckabee for dead. He's the least processed and manufactured of candidates, and certainly one of the smartest.
For example, he opposes the demonisation of Bush. We do that, we're the losers. While powerfully opposing the President's policies, he concedes the possibility of personal decency. When he argues that the administration, though monstrously wrong, believes that what it's doing is right for the country, fellow Democrats get very angry. But it wins Obama crossover Republican votes, as evidenced in Iowa.