Civility Watchdog: Obama’s Destruction of the Economy is “Intentional”

Rep. Allen West (R-FL) recently said this while being interviewed by radio pundit Michael Berry:

Berry: “Do you think that President Obama — that the negative result of his policies, and the destruction in his wake — is inadvertent because he’s inept? Or do you think — as some people increasingly believe and as Rush Limbaugh has suggested — that this is intentional?”

West: “It is intentional because — it’s intentional because this is who the president is. … He is a socialist, because he believes in nationalizing production. You think about what has happened with the financial industry, automobile industry, heath care industry”.

There’s always a problem when it comes to evaluating whether someone is a Marxist or socialist, because these terms are used to mean slightly (or sometimes significantly) different things.

But the charge that Obama believes in nationalizing production with respect to the financial, auto, and health care industries is questionable at best. The term “nationalize” is defined as, “to put (an industry, resources, etc) under state control or ownership”. Obama has not put any of these industries under government ownership (except for auto companies GM and Chrysler, which are not the entire auto industry, and have since been returned to private ownership). Although Obama has supported legislation that has brought these industries under greater government regulation, does that amount to “state control” and therefore socialism? If you support government regulation of an industry — for instance, health inspections in the food industry — is that socialism?

More problematic is West’s claim that Obama is intentionally destroying the economy. You can argue about whether Obama’s economic policies have been good for the country — Democrats will claim that his policies have prevented things from being worse, while Republicans will claim that Obama’s policies have forestalled a robust recovery that would have made things better — but what’s the evidence that it’s intentional? Even if you think Obama’s policies are bad for the economy, why can’t it be that he’s just mistaken about economics, rather than consciously destructive. Economics, after all, is complicated.

Unfortunately, just like Democrats are inclined to say that Republicans and conservatives are intentionally trying to make things worse for the unemployed and the elderly, West is resorting to name-calling and demonizing in the other direction. He’s wrong to do so, and Berry was wrong to provide him a platform for such invective.

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