The Spending Is the Thing Obama is a pragmatist in pursuit of an ideological prize. By Rich Lowry Obama exaggerated the downside of the economy two weeks ago so he could get more spending, and now he’s exaggerating its upside so he can get more spending. The fixed goal is more spending. The means — the rhetoric, the arguments, the assumptions — are flexible so long as they serve that ultimate goal. The past few weeks should have cleared away the debate over Obama’s intentions — is he a pragmatist or an ideologue? Obama is a pragmatist in pursuit of an ideological prize, willing to zig and zag so long as his lodestar of expanded government is ahead of him. A trope of conservative commentary about the stimulus package was that Nancy Pelosi had rolled the neophyte Obama, producing a sprawling monstrosity that betrayed his talk of pragmatism. This missed the point — Obama’s deference to Pelosi was his pragmatism. By giving Pelosi running room and enduring a few embarrassments, he got what he wanted, which was as much new spending as quickly as the political system could bear. If barely any Republicans could support it, so what? Bipartisanship was a means, not an end. SNIP ... the spending is evidently more important than recovery for Obama. SNIP Obama’s critics who accused him of “socialism” during the presidential campaign were roundly ridiculed. What rank name-calling! The charge didn’t have much resonance because the best (not particularly convincing) evidence for it was Obama’s proposed tax credit for workers who don’t pay the income tax. But Obama’s opponents read him well. He has the heart, if not the affect, of an ideologue. For him, above all else, the spending is the thing.