Barack Obama should be more like Nick Clegg

A Republican urging Barack Obama to be more like Nick Clegg is not a combination often seen, but that is what Michael Gerson argues in his Washington Post column, in a trans-Atlantic continuation of the debate over what counts as economic fairness:

Addressing the actual causes of inequality should be common ground for the center-left and center-right – and politically appealing to American voters, who are generally more concerned about opportunity than income equality. A mobility agenda might include measures to discourage teen pregnancy; increase the rewards for work; encourage wealth-building and entrepreneurship; reform preschool programs; improve infant and child health; increase teacher quality; and increase high school graduation rates and college attendance among the poor. Children of low-income parents who gain a college degree triple their chance of earning $85,000 a year or more. If America had the same fraction of single-parent families as it had in 1970, the child poverty rate would be about 30 percent lower.

During the initial stage of Republican House control, the focus will be on steep budget cuts. But a successful Republican presidential candidate in 2012 will need to speak of opportunity, not just austerity, to a dispirited nation.

Obama has that chance right now – as well as a progressive model to follow. The leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, recently addressed the meaning of economic fairness. “Social mobility is what characterizes a fair society,” he said, “rather than a particular level of income equality. Inequalities become injustices when they are fixed; passed on, generation to generation. That’s when societies become closed, stratified and divided. For old progressives, reducing snapshot income inequality is the ultimate goal. For new progressives, reducing the barriers to mobility is.”

You can read the full op-ed piece here.

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31 Comments

  • Praise from a right-wing, leading evangelical, Republican. Recruited by Karl Robe to work on G W Bush’s campaign, going on to be his speech writer from 2000. The same speech writer who helped the White House Iraq Group spin its message. Yeah, Clegg can wear it as a badge of honour, just like the one for being the new darling of the Tory party.

  • Tony Dawson 14th Dec '10 - 9:56pm

    Republicans want Obama to tank even further.

  • Gosh.

    Celebrating a member of the GOP praising Nick Clegg. I wouldn’t have believed it until I saw it.

    Before the Coalition – you would have viewed this as utterly toxic. Now – you want the whole world to know.

    You want to align with a party that have voted down compensation for 911 first responder emergency services veterans? And are cancelling heart transplant patients to save £5m out of a £1bn deficit in Arizona?

    Words fail me.

  • Is this a joke? Why are we quoting some Republican fraggle?

  • Hi Mark. Thanks for taking the time to reply. It gives LDV a human face. It’s appreciated.

    However – I side with Olly.

    Wikipedia credits this man with “proposing the use of a “smoking gun/mushroom cloud” metaphor during a September 5, 2002 meeting of the White House Iraq Group, in an effort to sell the American public on the nuclear dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.”

    This man comes with toxicity spraying out of every pore. He is culpable with Blair + Bush in creating a case for war.

    If being Liberal means sharing views of people you don’t agree with – why does this site have an almost blanket ban on the multitude of copy being produced fairly criticising Clegg + the Coalition?

  • Nick (not Clegg) 14th Dec '10 - 11:29pm

    Personally , I would not recommend anyone to be like Nick Clegg.

    i would certainly not consider it a compliment.

  • Republicans who hold medical support for 9/11 first responders to ransom so they can get a tax cut for the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans during a recession with unemployment approaching 10%.

    Obviously not a joke depite appearing so since the orange book Thatcherites would love this idea in austerity Britain. Why else was David Laws talking up possible future middle class tax cuts for his friend Mr Osborne to implement ?

    Obama is still far more popular then Bush and could fight and win an election.
    Unlike Nick. 😉

  • “Barack Obama should be more like Nick Clegg.”

    Go on, it’s a Saturday competition, isn’t it?

    “Gandhi should be more like Pol Pot”
    “Mother Teresa should be more like Paris Hilton”
    “Usain Bolt should be more like Eddie the Eagle”

  • Man On The Bus 15th Dec '10 - 12:05am

    “if you’ve got some specific examples of what you think we’ve not been covering but should have by all means drop me an email”

    You missed the vote in the Lords today on tuition fees.

    Oh, sorry – was I not meant to mention tuition fees?

  • Liberal Neil 15th Dec '10 - 12:27am

    I don’t think it is a bad thing in itself that a US Republican praises Nick Clegg, but reading the reasons for the praise is very worrying.

    The praise has come because Nick has focussed on social mobility at the expense of equality, which is much more in tune with US political tradition than our own.

    Unfortunately the result of this tradition is that there is not only much greater inequality of wealth in the US, but also much lower social mobility.

    A very good lesson in why Nick is so wrong on the issue.

  • David Le Grice 15th Dec '10 - 2:29am

    @labour commentors look up the term “ad hominem”.

    As for the substance of the issue Michael Gerson seems to ignore the fact that income inequality is most likley the main cause of the constraints to social mobility, further more social mobility, as was said in ‘The Thick of It’ costs money and we don’t have any. Therfore the solution to social immobility is higher and more progressive taxation somthing which Michael Gerson opposes.

    To be fair on Nick he only said that the low income inequality shouldn’t be the ultimate goal not that it wasn’t desireable indeed if someones taxes are cut via the tax threshold the fixed sum they save will be a higher proportion of their income the less they earn.

    Either way their both wrong as the poor aren’t necessarily lazy and we can’t all be middle class, so I’d say that both goals are equally as important.

  • Ruth Bright 15th Dec '10 - 9:59am

    David Allen – I’m stuck at home today with flu and the kids. Thanks for your post which cheered me up loads!

  • TheContinentalOp 15th Dec '10 - 10:10am

    I’m not sure why Mark is getting stick here. It seems to me he is merely reporting the comments rather than ‘celebrating’ them.

  • Adam Gillett 15th Dec '10 - 12:06pm

    David Allen

    I know it’s outrageously off topic but Mother Theresa wouldn’t be my first pick as a wonderful human being.

  • dave thawley 15th Dec '10 - 12:57pm

    Obama like Clegg – I totally agree that would be far better, instead of Bbama telling cameron what to do we would have cameron telling Obama what to do – sounds great 😉

  • “@labour commentors look up the term “ad hominem”.”

    Now that is funny!

  • patricia roche 15th Dec '10 - 4:44pm

    2.5 million unemployed and growing fast. Disabled people trapped in care homes due to withdrawal of mobility dla. An expensive experiment in changing the nhs. Hospitals allowed to give private care priority. Yes, more like usa every day. Perhaps Obama is listening to clegg.

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