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Is Obama moving the Overton Window rightward? Shutting it down?

Update: Lambert's comment made me look--should have searched here first!

I looked up the Wiki definition of the Overton Window and find myself wondering if Obama is actively working to move the Overton Window rightward. Or just making it smaller and smaller, until only his views are considered.

Any thoughts?

The Overton window is a concept in political theory, named after its originator, Joe Overton, former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. It describes a "window" in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse, in a spectrum of all possible options on an issue. Overton described a method for moving that window, thereby including previously excluded ideas, while excluding previously acceptable ideas. The technique relies on people promoting ideas even less acceptable than the previous "outer fringe" ideas. That makes those old fringe ideas look less extreme, and thereby acceptable. The idea is that priming the public with fringe ideas intended to be and remain unacceptable, will make the real target ideas seem more acceptable by comparison.

The degrees of acceptance of public ideas can be described roughly as:

Unthinkable
Radical
Acceptable
Sensible
Popular
Policy
The Overton Window is a means of visualizing which ideas define that range of acceptance by where they fall in it, and adding new ideas that can push the old ideas towards acceptance merely by making the limits more extreme.

~~~The Overton Window, Illustrated post by Shystee. Made it onto Wiki (last link)

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Submitted by jawbone on

appeal to Supreme Court.

Agreeing with the Bush administration, the Obama Justice Department argues the Wilsons have no legitimate grounds to sue. It is surprising that the first time the Obama administration has been required to take a public position on this matter, the administration is so closely aligning itself with the Bush administration’s views.

In fact, the Obama administration has gone one step further, suggesting Mr. Wilson failed to provide any evidence that Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rove or Mr. Libby harmed him. This is particularly ironic because the government had moved to have the case dismissed before the Wilsons had the opportunity to uncover the details of how Ms. Wilson’s covert identity was revealed.

What does this do to the Overton Window?

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

and the liberals should quit hating God. And you're a racist if you remember the church-based civil rights movement or find despicable the genial chuckling over Cadillac-riding welfare queens. That may be moving the Overton window to the right, or it may just be cementing it in the position Limbaugh wanted it.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

it moves right. it seems to me, thinking about FDR and the way he operated, that it would get larger as it moved left. Maybe I'm just flattering myself.

Submitted by jawbone on

type Commission legislation. Obama reserves right to decide which information will not be provided to Commission.

Jane Hamsher caught this in the NYTimes (bad link, trying to find):

In other words, the president is reserving the right to claim executive privilege if the commission seeks information or documents that the White House considers to be beyond the bounds of public information and/or privileged communications and negotiations within the executive branch.

There are links to the Grayson questioning of the Fed's Inspector General and to a signing statement at FDL at Jane's post.

Hey, he at least signed it. We must be grateful for small things.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

I'd never thought about the idea of someone looking to make the window smaller, but I think I agree with that the most. Many love to believe him to be the Manchurian candidate, or some monsterous radical liberal or conservative, or make him into some other kind of conspiracy, but at the end of the day I agree with the view that he's trying to make the window smaller and smaller for his own sake. There is no secret motive or conspiracy. Obama's motives are much more shallow and banal than I think most people give them credit for.