“The President’s New Development Policy”–It’s Anti-Socialist, so can Republicans Find Common Ground?


I’m overdue to write more about President Obama’s “new development policy”, following my participation in a “bloggers’ roundtable” on the subject at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

There are lots of people with much more knowledge and experience writing well about this, including especially at the Center for Global Development on my blogroll. “Value added” from me here might be to emphasize that the President has embraced notions of aid effectiveness, prioritization and bi-lateral relationships, as well as focus on private sector growth as THE way to reduce poverty, as reflected in the operating model of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. In other words, Obama has taken an experimental innovation from the G.W. Bush administration and sought to apply this as a policy framework across the broader scope of foreign aid in general.

This leads us to an interesting insight from a piece in The Root last week, “How Barack Obama became a Republican”: Obama can best be understood as an old fashioned establishment Republican–a “Mastodon” if you will–with policies largely what one would have seen from a Gerald Ford confronted with similar circumstances. This is a more conservative era, and Obama’s new development approach is more narrowly market focused presumably than what you would expect from a Nixon or Ford, but I think in broad terms this observation makes sense. Granted that the President doesn’t LOOK that much like Gerald Ford, but policy-wise I do think this is a better template than the Dinesh D’Souza “Luo tribesman”.

Of course, many in the right within the GOP have always hated moderate or liberal Republicans with a special passion–and post-midterms many in the “Tea Party” are itching to carry on the fight after eclipsing dealmaking “Reagan Republicans” like Trent Lott and other more center-right figures. I am not sure why we should assume that these are not people who are fully serious about “ending not mending” foreign assistance.

The conventional discourse has been about how, not whether to address poverty. Perhaps this is now a question that is no longer a given. At some level, poverty is just an extreme case of inequality. Perhaps we now embrace inequality as reflected in Nicholas Kristof’s latest: “Our Banana Republic”. Are there “Reagan Republicans” left who will deal with the Democrats and Obama for a more “conservative” or “right looking” foreign assistance program, or will they be cowed by the fear of primary challenges to come?


Why listen to what the President says when you can stereotype from his African ancestry? [Updated]

Newt Gingrich has gotten some play from accusing President Obama of being (gasp!) an “anti-colonialist” in a National Review interview. He says he learned this from the “stunning insight” of Dinesh D’Souza in a Forbes column.

This is a bit like Rand Paul on the Civil Rights Act. Do we really want a Republican Party that is re-arguing European colonialism? When I started reading National Review back in high school, and got introduced to Dinesh D’Souza, an overall message that I got at the time was that intellectual type conservatives recognized that conservative reluctance or recalcitrance on civil rights had been a screw-up that, along with Watergate, had contributed to our minority status at the time.

Here is Ta-Nehisi Coates, in The Atlantic: On Pro-Colonialism. For me, being anti-colonial is very much in keeping with the “original intent” of our Founding Fathers.

Regardless, Obama has gone to Africa, early in his term, and spoken to Africans: what was his actual message to Africans as the President of the United States (as reported on the Voice of America)? Can people like Gingrich actually be bothered to reflect on this, or is that unnecessary since there will be people who will obviously buy whatever pop psychology is served up about our “half-caste” leader?

Update: Related thoughts from Eugene Robinson in today’s Washington Post column:

The rational explanation is that Gingrich seized on the “programmed by his absent father” thesis as a way of furthering the “birther” narrative — the paranoid fantasy that Obama is foreign, exotic, alien, somehow not American. So what if D’Souza’s piece makes assertion after assertion that is plainly, demonstrably unsupported? Just throw it out there, and maybe a few gullible souls will believe it.

Of course, Glenn Beck was the first to push this meme publicly that I know of. See my post here about Beck’s agitprop about Obama and “anti-colonialism”.

From Antony Karanja in The Daily Nation: “Why Kenya and Obama are being dragged in the mud of U.S. racism”.