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Obama and the left

I understand why the White House is frustrated by the criticism from the "professional left" and feels progressives should focus on all the progressive things the administration has done rather than all the things it hasn't been able to do or interested in doing. What I don't understand is why Robert Gibbs would voice that frustration to the press. His comments just turn this into a "story," giving the very professional lefties whose criticism is rankling the White House another high-profile opportunity to criticize the White House.

Baffling. Meanwhile, it's worth noting that this is largely a Beltway phenomenon: According to Gallup, Obama is at 81 percent among self-described Democrats and 76 percent among self-described liberals. His problem is that he's at 38 percent among self-described independents and 55 percent among self-described moderates. Now, this might tell you less than meets the eye: Maybe independents would like Obama better if he'd followed the professional left's advice and really hammered the banks or sped up the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But so far as the polls go, Obama is doing okay among the left. In fact, as the graph below shows (click on it for a larger version), his approval trends among Democrats, independents and the country mirror Ronald Reagan's ratings among Republicans, independents and the country almost exactly.

obamareaganapproval.jpg

By Ezra Klein  |  August 10, 2010; 9:03 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Comments

So Ezra's message is that there's no need to worry about the left or what it might want, then. Mission accomplished, Ezra - your bosses (the lovers of endless war and the catfood commission) are so proud!

Posted by: redscott | August 10, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

They're probably being critical of the "left" as they think its a way to win favor with the "moderates" and "independents" who keep being told the POTUS is a socialist and wildly to the left by the mainstream media when that's hardly the case. It doesn't seem like they've even considered the idea that following the professional left's advice of hammering the banks, speeding up the withdrawl or fighting for a public option or a larger stimulus would win them favor.

Posted by: saratogian | August 10, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe independents would like Obama better if he'd followed the professional left's advice" -- Yes, that's an awesome pre-election strategy: with the nation moving center-right, it's high time that the White House and its supporters veer even further left, demonstrating just how far left it's possible to go without popular support.

As Jon Lovitz might say "Yeah, that's the ticket!"

Posted by: rmgregory | August 10, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I am a Democrat. I know other Democrats.

We are all upset at Obama for various things.

We are disaffected by Obama's political incompetence.

I don't believe the gallup poll. It is BS. No doubt it doesn't reflect younger Democrats, most of whom are disaffected.

Also, party affiliation has little to do with ideology. I know many Democrats who vote straight Republican and who are card carrying members of the KKK. Most of the poll respondents are older people who have affiliated with parties for many many years.

Most of his failures heavily outweigh his successes.

For example:

- health care was accomplished incompetently and resulted in a poor outcome and contributes to a disaffected nation and will hurt at the elections because of the perceived incompetence.

- Obama failed to get out of Iraq and gitmo as promised.

- Obama failed to limit the Afghan war as promised. His selection of the brutal McChrystal showed he was not a true progressive.

- Obama failed on DADT

- Obama failed to strengthen agencies such as MMS and now Democrats get blamed for something the drill baby drillers ought to get blamed for.

- Obama was stupid to predict his stimulus would prevent unemployment rate going above 8%. The kind of ROOKIE mistake that causes political blowback and weakens his abiity to argue for his policies.

- Obama was stupid to bow to foreign leaders. I personally don't care, but I know that many idiotic Americans, including moderates and indies DO CARE.

- Obama MASSIVELY betreyed progressives by fighting for Blanche Lincoln against a true progressive.

- Obama depends on the same economic advisor that most progressives despise (geithner, rubin, summers, et al) and who helped the Republicans create this recession.

- Obama is now intending to prosecute wikileaks people though he refuses to prosecute Bush admin war criminals.

- Obama is unable or unwilling to counter right-wing economic ideology or to fight EVERY day to get his message out as well as to shed light on GOP lies and mistakes.

- Obama is currently allowing the Pentagon to go on a PR blitz to shore up support for the afghan war. The great GE (NBC) is assisting in that.

Obama is protector of the status quo. Frankly, as of TODAY nothing seems to have changed. And changes are slated to occur in future years, but because of deficit commissions and Obama's political incompetence that will result in a November beating that should not have occurred because of prior GOP disasters, I predict those changes will not stand. Even Ezra Klein is predicting Obama will extend all the Bush tax cuts.

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 10, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Why wouldn't Gibbs voice his frustration to the press? It's not as though this beltway "professional left" ever gives up a chance to hammer at the White House - including when it's without basis. Last week alone, one professional lefty - I prefer to call them the egotistic, authoritarian ideologues - David Sirota alone wrote, for no apparent reason, fly-by articles attacking the President for being "confrontational" with "the Left" and another one bashing the President for a $10 million USAID program to help civil war and tsunami ravaged Sri Lanka. I wrote rebuttals for both:

"Stop the Obsession with Demonizing Obama" - http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2010/08/stop-obsession-with-demonozing-obama.html

and

"Obama, Sri Lanka, and Outsourcing: Some Perspective and Context" -http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2010/08/obama-sri-lanka-and-outsourcing-some.html

Progressives should be proud of this President's progressive achievements from health reform to the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes law to financial reform to credit card reform to student loan reform to the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (fuller list here - http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2010/08/obama-sri-lanka-and-outsourcing-some.html ). Instead the armchair activists on the beltway professional left spend their time picking fights with this president rather than with the Republicans. I don't blame the White House for being frustrated with people who seem to almost be giddy about the prospect of Democratic losses in November in order to "teach Obama a lesson."

Posted by: thepeoplesview | August 10, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"I am a Democrat. I know other Democrats.

We are all upset at Obama for various things.

We are disaffected by Obama's political incompetence."

i hope you wake up to where all of this bitter complaining may take us to.


"i have a theory about this.

i think that many of the "disaffected" left who cant stop ranting against president obama, are unforgiving hillary supporters, who continue to bear a heavy grudge against barack obama for winning the election.

second, if we end up with sarah palin (it could certainly happen) or mitt romney or bobby jindal, for president....and the tea partiers become empowered, and glenn beck and rush limbaugh are set free and vindicated in their hatefulness, then i think we will in good part, have the complaining, embittered, ungrateful left wing critics to thank for it....
when they unceasingly use their powerblogs and powerpulpits to continually hammer on barack obama, do they ever consider where this might lead us to?

and third, considering what president obama faces in congress, and considering the racism and hatred that is glaring at him from every corner....and the intractibility and the desire for the right and many of the left to thwart and sabotage and discredit his agenda, at every turn, i dont know what anyone expects of him.

this is the worst atmosphere i have ever seen.
many of the left have been turncoats. not giving a shred of acknowledgement for any of his accomplishments....and they can watch where their constant carping will take us.
to a far worse place.
a place where the inmates will really be running the institution, an america that i am afraid to contemplate.

so just keep up the criticism, keep up the complaining.
and see where it gets us.
may G-d help us all.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"I am a Democrat. I know other Democrats.

We are all upset at Obama for various things.

We are disaffected by Obama's political incompetence."

i hope you wake up to where all of this bitter complaining may take us to.


"i have a theory about this.

i think that many of the "disaffected" left who cant stop ranting against president obama, are unforgiving hillary supporters, who continue to bear a heavy grudge against barack obama for winning the election.

second, if we end up with sarah palin (it could certainly happen) or mitt romney or bobby jindal, for president....and the tea partiers become empowered, and glenn beck and rush limbaugh are set free and vindicated in their hatefulness, then i think we will in good part, have the complaining, embittered, ungrateful left wing critics to thank for it....
when they unceasingly use their powerblogs and powerpulpits to continually hammer on barack obama, do they ever consider where this might lead us to?

and third, considering what president obama faces in congress, and considering the racism and hatred that is glaring at him from every corner....and the intractibility and the desire for the right and many of the left to thwart and sabotage and discredit his agenda, at every turn, i dont know what anyone expects of him.

this is the worst atmosphere i have ever seen.
many of the left have been turncoats. not giving a shred of acknowledgement for any of his accomplishments....and they can watch where their constant carping will take us.
to a far worse place.
a place where the inmates will really be running the institution, an america that i am afraid to contemplate.

so just keep up the criticism, keep up the complaining.
and see where it gets us.
may G-d help us all.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"What I don't understand is why Robert Gibbs would voice that frustration to the press."

Because he wants to find another job?

I agree, it has to be thankless to do his job, and it must seem discouraging to be liberals politicians trying to achieve progressive goals and then constantly being criticized for not doing enough, for not doing it well enough, for not getting everything, the first time, perfectly. The Obama administration probably feels like they are married to the media/blogosphere, and they can never make her happy, and they're just getting tired of it.

One day, Ezra, you might be married with children. You might have also won the Nobel Prize for Wonkery by this time, and they won't care. Maybe you cured cancer, and they don't care. The house isn't big enough, everybody at school has a better phone, you didn't put a new bag in when you took the trash out, and sure, you say you watered the tomatoes, but they look a little wilty this morning, so either you watered them too much or you didn't water them enough, but, either way, it's still your fault. Then, I think, you'll understand Robert Gibb's faux pas a little better.

The political base is never happy, and I'm betting it gets old. Shouldn't have said it to the press. Ever try complaining about how negative (and complainy) a significant other is? It never works.

Still, at least Scott McLellan had the decency to leave before he started actively sabotaging the Bush administration. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 10, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"his approval trends among Democrats, independents and the country mirror Ronald Reagan's ratings among Republicans, independents and the country almost exactly"

And Reagan was trashed in the press and talked down by the punditry, and then won the 1984 elections in a landslide. So, Obama may not have that much to worry about.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 10, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

If I'm the professional left than Obama is most certainly the professional right.
As soon as he actually does something for progressives, I'll be sure to point it out to Ezra.

Posted by: sonofloud | August 10, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Frankly I'm baffled that you are baffled. Gibbs is hippy punching. Obama wants the story to be "leftists hate me." You are too young to 72. Believe me the fact that radicals supported McGovern was enough to prevent an Adlai Stevenson groupie from voting that year.

Also I would be very surprised indeed if none of the lefty Obama bashers weren't deliberately trying to help him. I'm not sure about Jane Hamsher, but I'm pretty sure about Duncan Black (he made it very very clear that he wouldn't say if he supported the ACA until after Lieberman voted for cloture).

One of the great defeats for Obama *and* the left came when Anthony Weiner opened his big mouth and said Medicare buy in was better than the level playing field public option (I can't blame him I did too but Lieberman doesn't know me from Adam).

"Obama is a terminally moderate wimp traitor to the left" is *exactly* what Obama wants to hear (note "Obama bankers' buddy" is exactly what he doesn't want to hear, since swing voters hate both leftists and bankers).

Posted by: rjw88 | August 10, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

PS

endless corporate welfare, endless wars, and endless religious interference in our lives are not progressive goals.

Posted by: sonofloud | August 10, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

"We are all upset at Obama for various things."


i am upset at G-d for many things.
i am upset with my childhood for many things.
i am upset with the fates for many things.
i am upset with george w bush for many things.

it isnt a perfect world out there,
and petulant complaining of being "upset with obama, for many things,"
isnt going to help.
he isnt our father.


he is our president, under amazingly awful circumstances.
and circumstances have hardly given him a break, since day one.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"One of the great defeats for Obama *and* the left came when Anthony Weiner opened his big mouth and said Medicare buy in was better than the level playing field public option"

yes, after months of dogged effort, to accomplish health care legislation in the most hostile atmosphere, weiner was ready to throw his hands up and walk away, as was howard dean.
as was barney frank.
it was shameful.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

It shows how much to the right the democrats have moved when they consider so called health care "reform" a victory for progressives.
And what did the progressives get in exchange for the complete selling out of our health care system to the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations?
We got the end of funding so poor women can afford abortions.
Hooray....more unwanted and neglected children !
Let's party.

Posted by: sonofloud | August 10, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"It shows how much to the right the democrats have moved when they consider so called health care "reform" a victory for progressives.
And what did the progressives get in exchange for the complete selling out of our health care system to the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations?
We got the end of funding so poor women can afford abortions.
Hooray....more unwanted and neglected children !
Let's party."

it is not a perfect world, but it is hard for me to imagine that anyone would think we were better off without this health care reform legislation.
if victory doesnt conform 100 percent with your view of how things should be in an ideal world, then it isnt a victory at all...
is that it?

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Nothing comes out of the White House Press Secretary's mouth that isn't planned... they want this to be the story. Why? Because the White House wants a Republican congress going into 2012. He's pretty much a lame duck and everyone knows it.

Posted by: gjcomm | August 10, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

jkaren

Where will my disaffection get me?

I hope it gets Obama primaried by a real progressive in 2012.

I do know that Obama's incompetence and systematic betreyal of his campaign promises will lead to a rout this November.

Obama seems to be an imposter to me. He pretended to be a progressive during the campaign but has veered to the right since then.

Obama is not running the system. The system is running him.

The only reason they enacted HCR was because then his betreyal would have been obvious even to people like you.

While you are busy wasting time with me, I have been writing emails to the white house insisting on true change. I suggest you do the same if you want to win back votes like me. You are not in a position to understand the depth of my disappointment or the weight which I personally place on various issues. What may be important to you may be trivial to me, and vice versa, and if you are still a solid supporter of Obama, then it is obvious we have different values and no amount of admonishment from you will affect my opinions.

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 10, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

rjw

The only way Obama succeeds (gets re-elected, passes legislation, etc) is if he get the support of the left AND the center.

So I dismiss your analysis.

Any strategy that angers his base will result in his total failure, and in this he has been successful so far.

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 10, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Ah yes the new Obama slogan:

Aim Low, Concede Defeat

Posted by: sonofloud | August 10, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"While you are busy wasting time with me, I have been writing emails to the white house insisting on true change. I suggest you do the same "


my whole life has been about working for change.
and it is about much more than sending angry emails to the white house.
good luck with that.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

"I hope it gets Obama primaried by a real progressive in 2012."

Possibly the dumbest thing I've read today. And that includes Gibbs' claiming that the left wants to eliminate the Pentagon.

Democrats will do the left's bidding when the left has actual power in this country. It's that simple. And the left would value the Administration more if the Administration valued the left more. It's that simple.

I wish both sides of this idiotic debate would take a little responsibility for their actions.

Hey Lefties--Do a little more organizing and constituent-building at times other than campaign season. And stop waiting for the morons in office to do your work for you.

Hey Morons in Office--Do a little more to encourage the left's participation at times other than campaign season. At least pretend to give a damn for a little while.

There...all better now? Jackasses.

Posted by: slag | August 10, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

Don't take this the wrong way but do you believe the progressive movement is strong enough to primary Obama to any serious effect?

Pick a candidate. Any candidate that you'd see as a progressive that could have a snowball's chance in "HE##" of beating Obama in 2012.

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 10, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

"Obama seems to be an imposter to me. He pretended to be a progressive during the campaign but has veered to the right since then"

i think it was pretty clear from the outset, who barack obama was.
his positions were quite clear from the outset.

he promised change that we could believe in, in a world in constant flux, not a box of magic band-aids.

"life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

@jkaren: "second, if we end up with sarah palin (it could certainly happen)"

I know I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating. I *love* Sarah Palin. I would vote for her in a heartbeat. In fact, I did. Her and that old guy that she was running with.

That having been said, after everything that's gone on with her family, plus quitting the governorship--she's just toxic in a political sense. There's a 1% chance of her becoming president. As totally awesome as that would be, I'd spend more time worrying about what's 99% likely. Historically, what is something like 75% likely is that the running incumbent wins. That gives us a 25% chance of the Republican winning. And even taking out Carter took the Great Communicator, Ronaldus Magnus. Unless the Republicans are running zombie Reagan, I'm still putting my money on Obama in 2012 (but he loses, rather than picks up, seats in congress).

Primary challengers are often a bad sign for an incumbent, however. So if Obama does have a primary challenger, it's more likely he'll lose to the real challenger, in November. Not pre-ordained, just statistically more likely.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 10, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Exactly, he promised change and now claims to be moderate.
Moderates generally don't campaign on the slogan "Change you can believe in".
But then when you claim all sides of every argument your bound to be correct some of the time.

Posted by: sonofloud | August 10, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

All polling data suggests that Independents are SHOCKED to have discovered that Obama is a Marxist.


Nice job JournoLISTERS!!!

You really fooled them when it mattered!

You got the Marxist in the White House by tricking the independents who are dumb enough to use news sources outside Fox News.

Hopefully independent will never make that mistake....and by the ratings surge that Fox News is experiencing, it looks like that is correct.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | August 10, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Obama is in a bad catch-22. The left had such high expectations of his Presidency that they were bound to be disappointed since the country would never accept things like single payer or the abandonment of Afghanistan.

To make matters worse moderates and Independents who actually got him elected are running away in droves since what he's done isn't the "hope and change" they were expecting.

Posted by: bbface21 | August 10, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

By their very nature moderates do not lead but merely follow.
To expect anything more than the status quo from them is naive.

Posted by: sonofloud | August 10, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

"she's just toxic in a political sense. There's a 1% chance of her becoming president"


i sure hope that you are right.
she is in my spooky box of fears for the future.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

i sure hope that you are right.
she is in my spooky box of fears for the future.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse


jkaren,

its funny because many on the right (especially the far right like our friend FastEddie) would put Obama in that same box. Now I don't believe that but I also don't believe the rhetoric of the lauren's of the world that call him a "right leaning president". That's where some progressives lose their credibility and objectivity.

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 10, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin: "and sure, you say you watered the tomatoes, but they look a little wilty this morning,"

awesome, awesome post.

Posted by: eggnogfool | August 10, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"its funny because many on the right (especially the far right like our friend FastEddie) would put Obama in that same box. Now I don't believe that but I also don't believe the rhetoric of the lauren's of the world that call him a "right leaning president". That's where some progressives lose their credibility and objectivity."

Posted by: visionbrkr

a long, long time ago, i saw an ad in the new york times.

it showed two ways of seeing the world.
one was, a little balloon on string, sailing away in a cloudless sky.

the other, was a little ballon, wafting inside a frame, that had rows of thorns inside the frame, on all four sides.

conversations like these, make me feel that wherever the balloon goes, it hits the thorn.
every beautiful intention and hope,
finds its way to a thorn.
it just seems inescapable.

one must keep trying to be at peace,
with the nature of things.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"@Kevin: "and sure, you say you watered the tomatoes, but they look a little wilty this morning,"

awesome, awesome post.

Posted by: eggnogfool"


agreed:-)

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Either Al Gore or Hillary would beat Obama in a primary, if they chose to run.

And if Obama doesn't soon change his style, there will be other Dems from out of the blue, as of yet unknown, who will be able to beat him too.

The other possibility is for an indie candidate (not a tea party looney) to run strongly and beat both the Dems and the GOP.

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 10, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"i think it was pretty clear from the outset, who barack obama was. his positions were quite clear from the outset."

Obama himself hinted in the campaign that lots of his supporters didn't quite understand that they'd disagree with many of his stances. I don't have the exact quote.

Anyway, you are incorrect. Lots of his supporters have discovered since then that he is different from what they believed. I was not one of them, as I only supported him after he obtained the nomination. I always suspected he was pretending to be more progressive than he really was, though he has surpised me to the extent he has shifted.

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 10, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"Anyway, you are incorrect. Lots of his supporters have discovered since then that he is different from what they believed"

i think that might be called, "a rite of passage."

and it does not at all surprise me that you only supported him after he won the nomination. in fact, it fits with my theory.

and lots of his supporters thought when he said,
"change you can believe in,"
it meant....
"i will make your most cherished hopes and dreams all come true, starting my first day in office."


i wish when babies come to earth,
they would get that promise also.
it just is not going to happen.

i am going off now to visit someone in a rehab hospital now.
life never works the way you plan it.
just ask every single person in the beds in that facility.
we just dont get everything that we want.
and life takes away many of the things that were "promised" to us.

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@rmgregory Exactly how "far left" are Democrats and the Obama White House really? They implemented a health care plan that mirrors a Republican's plan almost exactly, they pushed plenty of tax cuts across the board, and they are taking measures to reduce long term deficits.

I would say, if anything, the Obama White House and Democrats have played a very moderate and even slightly conservative game here. The issue isn't that Obama and Democrats have moved further to the left or are being especially liberal. The issue is that the right has moved severely towards the right as their numbers have dropped.

Obama won the election. He has popular support and the mandate. So saying he doesn't as he implements the policies people voted for him to accomplish is a bit strange.

I would say, overall, the sense of dissatisfaction with Obama is stronger in the online world than I sense it offline. Perhaps it is stronger among those that are "high information" voters because they expected a lot more.

In a nutshell, Obama is not a continuation of Bush. I can't really fathom how one could say that. Would Bush have handled any of these crises the same way? In a competent way? Obama has shortcomings - every President does - but that doesn't mean he doesn't do anything right.

He's working within a constitutional framework that limits his power. He has to contend with the bickering and watering down of bills in the legislative branch. I can't imagine he's 100% happy with them because in the end he doesn't get everything he wanted.

The key thing is... he gets most of what he wants. That's important. It's the component I think a lot of the netroots like to forget.

Posted by: Zotnix | August 10, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

How could Obama spend taxpayers money to help a dictatorial dynasic rule of Sri Lanka which is reportedly have swindled $53 Billion from Tsunami funds (re: Transparency International)

Sri Lankaa is listed as one of the worst of the worst human abusers for too long.

Are we making Chinese happy?

Posted by: SenatorFinch | August 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh come on, Gibbs is mentioning this because they like it at the White House. It positions them somewhere in the center left, instead of at the far far left, where they are carving out a new form of leftism: lifestyle of rich and famous, governing style of commissar.

Posted by: truck1 | August 10, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

You don't understand? Hard to believe.

You lash out at "the left" because you hope it will gain you cred with the center and the right.

There's even a little phrase for it: Hippie-punching.

Posted by: BillEPilgrim | August 10, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"Either Al Gore or Hillary would beat Obama in a primary, if they chose to run.

And if Obama doesn't soon change his style, there will be other Dems from out of the blue, as of yet unknown, who will be able to beat him too."

While I suppose it is possible that either of those names might win "a" primary or even some primaries, I doubt that either could win enough primaries (and super delegates) to deny Obama the nomination. I also doubt that either would so foolish as to make the attempt.

The likely result of such a bruising fight within the party would be the sort of disunity that handed victory to Richard Nixon in 1968, and to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

And I am not certain that either Gore or Clinton would govern much further to the left. Hillary ran to the right of Obama on foreign policy in 2008, and spoke often of the need for a return to fiscal responsibility. There will probably be a token challenge from Kucinich, and perhaps from another minor league progressive or two, but there is no reason to expect Obama will not coast to an easy re-nomination.

Anyone who followed the Democratic debates, and/or read The Audacity of Hope, should not be suprised in the least that Obama purposely distances himself from progressive ideology and embraces what he considers to be the politically pragmatic center. Even the 2004 convention speech ("there are no red states, there are no blue states") gave a clear signal that he did not want to be tagged with a strong ideological foundation. And this is typical of all modern sucessful Democratic nominees - Obama, Clinton, and Carter have all governed to the right of Richard Nixon, for the most part.

There is nothing baffling or inadvertent about the Gibbs complaint. It is consistent with the leaked attack on organized labor for supporting Bill Halter in Arkansas, and emblematic of the Obama style since taking the oath of office. You can be certain it was planned and approved by Obama and Axelrod.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 10, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

For all the Obama WH's accomplishments, and for their smart *electoral* strategy, the more policy folks I talk to--who deal with this WH on a day-to-day basis--the more I get the sense that they're just not all that good at the politics of governing.

Like, "political malpractice" bad.

Posted by: ibc0 | August 10, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Reminds me of that time that Ari Fleischer told the religious fundamentalists to "go fsck yourselves". Good times, good times.

Posted by: ibc0 | August 10, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"i will make your most cherished hopes and dreams all come true, starting my first day in office."

I dont know about anyone else, but I never believed his mantra of change meant that.

Your comment seems to imply that in your mind Obama has in fact made any change at all, when in fact he hasn't done squat.

So, what has he changed other than act ineptly at every turn and somehow revive a loony, dangerous GOP?

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 10, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Approval ratings are meaningless. The only thing that matters is who comes to the polls, and voter enthusiasm is most dismal amongst liberals and young people. Therefore, Obama has a hell of a problem on his hands with liberals and young people. There are more liberals who aren't planning to get out and vote for D's who are gettable for Obama than there are independents. Eventually, Obama will realize that American elections are about base turnout.

Posted by: michaelh81 | August 10, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

guys, i'm a progressive since the kennedy years, a leftie from a way back, not a hillary goon, and nobody was happier than i to see a dem sweep in 2008.

that being said, i am really unhappy w/the steps or lack thereof that obama has taken in many areas.

he shouldn't have promised to get out of the middle east wars and gitmo if he didn't plan on following thru.

the use of summers, geithner, et. al. for economic advisers is ludicrous.

various other mistakes i can overlook (who cares if he "bows" to foreign leaders), but the health care fiasco was a mess. the only reason it got passed was nancy pelosi; obama had little to do with it (if that perception is wrong, it's not the fault of the perceiver, it's up to the prez to appear as if he's actively involved in getting things done).

i lol when obama defenders come up w/positive things he's done...invariably, up near the top of the list, there's student loan re-alignment.

america: still torturing, still killing brown-skinned people, but we've fixed our student loan program! yeah!

at some point you've got to stop using the knee-jerk response that the people debating you in good faith are just complainers, and begin to look at their side of the story.

in other words, if the universe keeps telling you you're doing it wrong, maybe it's not the universe that's the stubborn one.

Posted by: skippybkroo | August 10, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

PAtrick

Obama's attack on organized labor is precisely why he is vulnerable to a primary defeat.

Organized labor is perhaps the most important allie to any Dem winning the White House, yet here is this buffoon tearing apart his own base.

Obama is lucky there isn't another strong Dem candidate waiting in the wings, because if there were, Obama would be toast. I can't think of another President in recent decades so vulnerable to being primaried.

And I disagree with you. I do think Gore or Hillary could beat him in a primary--easily. I do agree they won't try though.

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 10, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

" I do think Gore or Hillary could beat him in a primary--easily."

uh....al gore, who was the noble hero of all of us...
now with his 8 million dollar non-energy efficient villa in montecito...and rumors swirling around him, like a hive of angry bees?
i dont think so. he seems to have his hands full at the moment.

and hillary clinton......
who was asking her ardent supporters to help retire her campaign debt, and now pulls a three million dollar wedding out of hat?
truly outrageous.
i still wonder how she ever got to her position as secretary of state, with their financial involvements with sovereign wealth funds in the middle east.
i would guess that one quarter of the wedding list was composed of hedge fund folks and goldman sachs royalty.
ties to wall street?
and with her hawkish voting record, and her vote on the kyl-lieberman amendment....we would have bombed iran by now.
~~~~~~~~
yup, the more i think about these people, the more ready i am to go campaign my heart out for barack obama....again:-)

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

lauren2010,

"Organized labor is perhaps the most important allie to any Dem winning the White House, yet here is this buffoon tearing apart his own base."

I agree that the rhetoric used against Labor after the Arkansas went over the top. But I also think the White House made labor very happy with the recess appointment of Craig Becker to the NLRB, so they had built up a little "political capital" in advance of that scolding. Likewise the administration continues to support (or at least pays lip service to) the Employee Free Choice Act (and other goals of the labor movement), the head of SEIU was at or near the top of the top of the list for frequent White House visitors, and I think the overall relationship is sound, despite the fact that Obama occasionally insists on a public display of independence. Labor would have great difficulty supporting an insurgent candidacy to unseat an incumbent Democratic President, absent some deep fundamental shift in Obama's popularity relative to a Republican opponent.

"Obama is lucky there isn't another strong Dem candidate waiting in the wings, because if there were, Obama would be toast. I can't think of another President in recent decades so vulnerable to being primaried."

Even if there was such a candidate, it would play out like Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter -- at best. The incumbent enjoys tremendous institutional advantages, on top of which Obama has great skills as an inspirational public speaker and as a campaigner (unlike Carter). After the mid-terms he will have opportunities to improve his image with the hard core liberal base, especially if (as expected) the Republicans enjoy mid-term gains, and the polarization between the two parties grows even stronger. Obama could benefit from the sort of specific Republican bogeyman that Newt became for Clinton.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is a shame that we don't have a President who is willing to fight for a more progressive agenda, I am sick of the counter-productive killing in Afghanistan, and Obama's policies regading civil liberties and executive power have been lamentable. If a truly progressive and credible Democrat does challenge Obama, there is an excellent chance I will vote for such a challenger. But having watched the evolution of the Democratic nomination process since the 1960's, based on what we know today, Obama appears to be an even safer bet for re-nomination than Bill Clinton was for 1996 as he went into the midterms of '94. If (like Clinton) news improves after the midterms, it is a sure thing.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 10, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"Your comment seems to imply that in your mind Obama has in fact made any change at all, when in fact he hasn't done squat."

that simply is not true.
he has an impressive and significant list of accomplishments.
you can find them here....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Every new President thinks they can do it better. Then the ballons hit the thorns (thanks jkaren). A President's success depends entirely on how they can manage the small and sometimes large pops that occur.

Unfortunately for the USA, Obama is an amateur and everyone is paying the price.

Posted by: dacama | August 10, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

"Unfortunately for the USA, Obama is an amateur and everyone is paying the price."


having lived through the nixon years, the ford years, the end term of nancy reagan presiding over the white house, the disgrace of the clinton years, george w bush....i feel grateful to have barack obama as president.
and i still believe, hope and pray that things are going to improve. i have not lost my faith.
i dont consider him an amateur.
i think he is being stonewalled at every turn.
his administration has been besieged with problems...most,not of his making.
we lost our ethical compass during the clinton years, we lost our direction, footing and prestige during the bush years....mccain opened the pandora's box with the selection of sarah palin, who gave empowerment and a major platform to extremists and idealogues.....
and here we are.....
i feel like we are a very sick patient....
and some of our relatives are trying to pull the plug on us.
:-(

Posted by: jkaren | August 10, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

"I understand why the White House is frustrated by the criticism from the "professional left""

Really? That's utter nonsense. The "professional left", that's "serious people" like you, Ezra, and they wouldn't ever protest anything Obama. Who protests are the unprofessional folks on the left who still care about real improvements for the people, and who won't applaud if the WH takes the easy way out and unnecessarily goes for lousy compromises that are no real improvement! Those are liberals who care more about the people than about their own carreers.

You're not one of them, of course. You sellout.

Posted by: Gray62 | August 11, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

"i still believe, hope and pray that things are going to improve. i have not lost my faith."
That's simply voter's remorse.

Posted by: Gray62 | August 11, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"i still believe, hope and pray that things are going to improve. i have not lost my faith."
That's simply voter's remorse."


no, it is not.

it is about not breaking the faith
with things or people i believe in,
during times of difficulty.
and knowing that all journeys
have very difficult places.

Posted by: jkaren | August 11, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

"it is about not breaking the faith
with things or people i believe in"

Sounds like you have never been utterly disappointed by a person you trusted. Congratulations!

However, most other people already had that experience, and know that it's possible to be misled by smart pretenders and con artists.

Posted by: Gray62 | August 11, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Sounds like you have never been utterly disappointed by a person you trusted. "

gray....because people that i love and/or believe in, disappoint me sometimes, i dont lose faith in them.

if everytime i was disappointed by someone or something, i lost faith in them, i dont think i would have any relationships, or care about many things.
my life simply doesnt work that way.

Posted by: jkaren | August 11, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

A reply to Obama and his spokespersons:

I'm not part of the professional left - I don't even knock on doors - but:

We just might not bother to turn out to vote out of protest - just as in Massachusetts.

If our short-term boycott of Democrats like you means short term pain that is the only way we get TRUE long-term gain with TRUE Democrats later on like we had in the past, TRUE Democrats like Kennedy who TRULY cared for the common people, then:

So be it.

We want what we "cannot" get? Like "Canadian" healthcare?

Guess again, Obama.

To all:

The American Democrats of the 1960's were not willing to settle for a watered down privatized system, where seniors get nothing but government vouchers for private insurance. They understood that in such a privatized system, the lower your income the more the vouchers could not be big enough to cover private premiums AND copays AND deductibles, that the further you go down the income scale, the more the subsidies become too small for the service in question to ever be affordable - the lower your income, the more you're screwed, subsidies or not.

Thank God the American Democrats of the 1960's were not a bunch of Obamas. Scientific evidence that they were morally right and the Obamas of the world are morally wrong:

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2006/august/has_canada_got_the_c.php

"Historically, one of the cruelest aspects of unequal income distribution is that poor people not only experience material want all their lives, they also suffer more illness and die younger. But in Canada there is no association between income inequality and mortality rates-none whatsoever....Income inequality is strongly associated with mortality in the United States and in North America as a whole," the study found, "but there is no relation within Canada at either the province or metropolitan area level - between income inequality and mortality."...The same study revealed that among the poorest people in the United States, even a one percent increase in income resulted in a mortality decline of nearly 22 out of 100,000....What makes this study so interesting is that Canada used to have statistics that mirrored those in the United States. In 1970, U.S. and Canadian mortality rates calculated along income lines were virtually identical. But 1970 also marked the introduction of Medicare in Canada - universal, singlepayer coverage. The simple explanation for how Canadians have all become equally healthy, regardless of income, most likely lies in the fact that they have a publicly funded, single-payer health system and the control group, the United States, does not."

Note: They found that this association between income and mortality in the US existed to a significant degree only for those under age 65, not for those at least age 65 with "Canadian style" Medicare part A and Part B such that government directly finances the healthcare of the people in question with no private corporate middle-persons.

Posted by: Keefanda | August 12, 2010 6:24 AM | Report abuse

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