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Approval of Congress very low -- among Democrats

Robert Gibbs' attack on the "professional left" has sparked a big debate over whether Obama and Dems are really suffering slippage with the Democratic base. Here's another data point: A new Gallup poll finds approval of Congress is surprisingly low among Democrats.

Gallup notes that approval of Congress among Dems is only 38 percent, a development Gallup terms "noteworthy." While that represents a slight uptick in recent days, it's down from an astonishing 63 percent in April of 2009, when the blush of excitement at the Dems' big 2008 victory was still fresh. A year ago, when health care was being debated, Dem approval of Congress stood at 55 percent.

Much of the debate has focused on whether the President is slipping among liberals, but the approval rating of Congress among Dems seems like an equally important number. Congressional leaders, obviously, played a critical role in producing the historic string of legislative victories racked up by Obama, which has widely been compared to FDR's agenda in scope and ambition.

Yet Dems still find Congress wanting. I tend to think that Obama's victory, which seemed to hint at a transformative moment in American politics, inflated expectations to an unreasonable degree, given GOP obstructionism and the current system's intransigent realities.

Whether or not that's true will be debated for some time to come. But these Gallup numbers lend weight to what many have argued: That rank and file Dems are just not buying the claim by Obama and Dems that they've pushed the envelope of the possible as far as it could be pushed.

By Greg Sargent  |  August 11, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections  
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Comments

"rank and file Dems are just not buying the claim by Obama and Dems that they've pushed the envelope of the possible as far as it could be pushed. "

Bulls-eye. And the Obama Independents feel the same way. Weakness. Ineptitude. Incompetence. That, My Friend, is a recipe for political disaster.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 11, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Uhmm how does Obama get lumped inwith numbers on Congressional approval of Dems when he has his own polling numbers which are much better with Dems? Am I missing? Or could it be that a lot of Dems recognize that Dems in our own party especially in the Senate are helping to block our agenda?

Its almost as if Dem voters are savy enough to be able distinguish between the role of Congress and the role of the President....

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | August 11, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Sooooo...

Expectations were unreasonable...

But they should have done more anyway!

Yeah!

Hogwash.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 11, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

sg, I don't think I'm lumping Obama in with Congressional Dems, or saying that this reflects public sentiment about Obama himself. We're trying to gauge here whether the performance of Dems overall has produced slippage with the base. That's all...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 11, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Ethan, I didn't endorse the view that they haven't pushed the envelope of the possible far enough.

and wbgonne, what's happening with the book?

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 11, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Typical:

Set unrealistic expectations.

Then whine when they are not met.

What is this, Kindergarden?

Whatever it is, it's just an excuse to turn the country back to the Republican Party.

Thanks a lot Dems. WAY TO FREAKING GO.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 11, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I think the Blue Dogs and conservadems in the Senate, who all seem to be taking more corporate money, have brought both the image of the Party and the legislation down several notches. It has also trickled over to the President because he seems to bend in that direction when in fighting mode. It's easy to blame the liberal/progressive base, they usually do, but in reality they've gone too far to the right in an economic hailstorm raining down on the middle class. They've saved what they could in the way of jobs and now appear to be done for the most part, not a good electoral strategy.

Posted by: lmsinca | August 11, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

O/T breaking news....

Karen Handel, the GOP primary candidate for GA Governor who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, has conceded to Nathan Deal (who is a sympathetic to the birthers...).

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/karen-handel-concedes-to-nathan-deal-in-ga-gov.php?ref=fpa

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 11, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"I didn't endorse the view that they haven't pushed the envelope of the possible far enough."

Not blaming you bud. But I am getting really really tired of these "Dems Unhappy with Dems" stories.

How about a piece on Hispanic turnout helping Bennet in CO?

That should be a MASSIVE story given the Right's insistence on draconian anti-Hispanic measures.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 11, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"Not blaming you bud. But I am getting really really tired of these "Dems Unhappy with Dems" stories."


totally understand. I just felt compelled to hit this because yesterday I hit the PPP poll saying everything is hunky dory with liberals

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 11, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Another useless national poll report.

How is each candidate doing in their own district?That is all that matters; and not what voters in every other district feels about all the members of congress, except their own.

Again:

"All politics is local" Tip O'Neill

The vast majority of incumbents keep on winning, over and over, regardless of how low the nation, as a whole, views Congress, in the collective.

If anyone thinks that only 38% of Democratic Incumbents will get reelected, then I have a mother lode tapioca mine, that I can let them have, at a very reasonable price.


Posted by: Liam-still | August 11, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"I tend to think that Obama's victory, which seemed to hint at a transformative moment in American politics, inflated expectations to an unreasonable degree, given GOP obstructionism and the current system's intransigent realities."

I'd argue that even without GOP obstructionism, Obama's campaign promised the undeliverable, and ambiguous pledges of "hope and change" and campaign speeches that suggested future generations would look upon his election as the beginning of Utopia . . . his campaign wrote a check that he could not possible cash. Disappointment was inevitable.

Watch how the Republicans are running by promising next-to-nothing. "We don't be Obama" is a very easy campaign pledge to keep, and kind of ironic given some Republicans accused Democrats of running on nothing but "we're not Bush".

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 11, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Word, Greg. You're doing a great job with everything. That's just my one minor complaint of late. :) Frankly, if I wanted stories about Dems being weak and fighting with themselves I can pick a litany of sources MSM and otherwise. The main reason I like your blog is because you typically cut directly through the BS and get down to the facts underlying the current environment. That's also why I like the Hispanics Helped Bennet angle... It's way under-reported for one, and for another Hispanics coming to the Dems in droves is something that has been predicted almost daily by politicos on both sides of the aisle. Well, all of those politicos -- including you -- deserve to pat yourselves on the back. You're absolutely correct. The GOP is driving Hispanics to the Dems. NOW that we've seen evidence of this, you have an opportunity to BRAG that you were right! ;)

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 11, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"I tend to think that Obama's victory, which seemed to hint at a transformative moment in American politics, inflated expectations to an unreasonable degree, given GOP obstructionism and the current system's intransigent realities."

I'd argue that even without GOP obstructionism, Obama's campaign promised the undeliverable, and ambiguous pledges of "hope and change" and campaign speeches that suggested future generations would look upon his election as the beginning of Utopia . . . his campaign wrote a check that he could not possible cash. Disappointment was inevitable.

Watch how the Republicans are running by promising next-to-nothing. "We don't be Obama" is a very easy campaign pledge to keep, and kind of ironic given some Republicans accused Democrats of running on nothing but "we're not Bush".

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 11, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry four the double post. I hate it when I do that. If WaPo would let me delete one of 'em, I would. But it doesn't.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 11, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"Watch how the Republicans are running by promising next-to-nothing."

Yeah. We know.

They also refuse to vote for funding requested by Republican Governors.

The congressional GOP is expert at killing this country. Tell us something we don't know.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 11, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure this is able to be polled, but the "professional left" probably had a decent amount to do with the lack of enthusiasm on the Democrats side.

Right or wrong, the right-wing media matched in lockstep with their Republican president. Not only does Obama face a full frontal assualt from the right-wing media, he is also forced to defend himself against the "professional left" as well.

If the Democrats lose either majority, it will be partly the fault of those who attack Obama on the left because he only got 85% of what they wanted instead of 100%.

Posted by: Quick2822 | August 11, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Isn't there another interpretation for these numbers?

If a pollster called my phone (which they won't because it's a cell, but never mind), I'd tell them I approved of Obama's performance but disapproved of Congress'.

I don't consider myself a liberal per se, but I am more sympathetic to most left-leaning arguments and voted for Obama. I am pleased with what he's done so far. But I also am frustrated by the continuing obstruction in the Senate and all that has led to: stalled and watered-down bills that are desperately needed to address significant problems.

I don't see Democratic disapproval of Congress in any way to be a critique of either Obama or necessarily Democratic congressional leaders (though they probably are much less popular on the left than Obama), but rather echoing the frustration of Democratic lawmakers in both houses of how broken the Senate has become.

Posted by: Paul8604 | August 11, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Since being critical seems to be what all the cool kids are doing nowadays I'll pile on too.

This Congress and Administration are complete failures, pathetic, spineless, corporatists, Bush-lite know nothings and I could care less if they remain in office or not since I didn't get everything I wanted.

Here's the problem I see with this new breed of pundits and "activists." They established themselves to be anti-establishment. They thrived in the Bush years as being anti-establishment and that is what comes natural. Not only did they thrive at being anti-establishment, those that turn to them for guidance to help form opinions also only know how to exist in an anti-establishment state.

No fault of their own but they really don't know how to have meaningful discussions and made compromising deals to account for the reality of things.

Anyways, carry on.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 11, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Remember that other poll a few days ago showing that above all Americans want EFFECTIVE government? That's the issue here. Obama has done a great deal using his executive powers, in foreign affairs etc and has gotten some very important initiatives through Congress, albeit watered down. Yes, he certainly could have done more. But it is the Congress, the dysfunctional Congress, that is the sticking point, the blockage, the barrier.

Look, this started a year ago when Max Baucus decided to do his slow two-step with Chuck Grassley. Then we had Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln whining about everything that came down the pike and wanting to be patted on the head and have their state be given goodies before they would vote for anything. We had the Senate hit gridlock.

The House has done what it could (apart from the distracting Bart Stupak horror show), but the Senate is a disgrace. Granted most of this is the GOP's fault, but the conservadems were there with their fingers in the gears from Day One, starting with the too-small-and-then-got-smaller stimulus. They didn't move when they could have and now they can't seem to move at all.

Is it any wonder that people hate the Congress? It is a clown show now. The sad part is that it is House members who will largely pay the price (apart from Blanche Lincoln), but even there it will be the Blue Dogs who lose, not the Progressives, who are in safer districts and do more.

What do you expect?

Posted by: Mimikatz | August 11, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The Elephant In The Room;

That No One Appears To Notice;

The Howard Dean 50 States Strategy.

The Far Left have raved about it; and yet they can not stop complaining about what it actually delivered.

The Dean 50 State Strategy did not suddenly find strong liberal districts or states, that were not already being won by Democrats.

It eked out very narrow victories in districts and states that had been electing Republicans. The were tradiionally right of center seats. In order for Democrats to win; the voters of those locations had to be disenchanted with the performances of their Republicans reps. That did not mean that the voters had suddenly stopped being right of center in their political views. Accordingly; the only Democrats who could stand a chance of winning, were Conservative Democrats.

That is why their is a Jim Webb, because a more liberal Democrat would never get elected from his state. That is the reality of the results of Howard's fifty state strategy. That is why he courted right of center candidates to run against Republicans in red states and districts.

It payed off; and Democrats took over both houses of Congress. It did not deliver an expanded Liberal Majority. That was never going to happen. Howard Dean knew that. Apparently a lot of the Hard Left were not smart enough to grasp that, from the outset, or they would not be expecting Howard's new Blue Dogs, to suddenly morph into Liberal Lap Dogs.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 11, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The Elephant In The Room;

That No One Appears To Notice;

The Howard Dean 50 States Strategy.

The Far Left have raved about it; and yet they can not stop complaining about what it actually delivered.

The Dean 50 State Strategy did not suddenly find strong liberal districts or states, that were not already being won by Democrats.

It eked out very narrow victories in districts and states that had been electing Republicans. The were tradiionally right of center seats. In order for Democrats to win; the voters of those locations had to be disenchanted with the performances of their Republicans reps. That did not mean that the voters had suddenly stopped being right of center in their political views. Accordingly; the only Democrats who could stand a chance of winning, were Conservative Democrats.

That is why their is a Jim Webb, because a more liberal Democrat would never get elected from his state. That is the reality of the results of Howard's fifty state strategy. That is why he courted right of center candidates to run against Republicans in red states and districts.

It payed off; and Democrats took over both houses of Congress. It did not deliver an expanded Liberal Majority. That was never going to happen. Howard Dean knew that. Apparently a lot of the Hard Left were not smart enough to grasp that, from the outset, or they would not be expecting Howard's new Blue Dogs, to suddenly morph into Liberal Lap Dogs.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 11, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"This Congress and Administration are complete failures, pathetic, spineless, corporatists, Bush-lite know nothings and I could care less if they remain in office or not since I didn't get everything I wanted."

Since you're always right mike I'll bend to your awesome assessment of the situation and get back to my real job. Very helpful.

Have a good day all.

Posted by: lmsinca | August 11, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

@ethan: "The congressional GOP is expert at killing this country. Tell us something we don't know."

Well, that certainly isn't what I said. I don't think the sustainability of this country, nor it's life force, is centered in the swamps of DC, or in the mostly small hearts and minds of the mostly small men and women who live and breathe for their fiefdoms in the halls of inside-the-beltway power.

I don't think the GOP is trying to kill this country, and they certainly aren't doing it. Mostly, they're trying to win a very big multiplayer game.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 11, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin_Willis

"I'd argue that even without GOP obstructionism, Obama's campaign promised the undeliverable, and ambiguous pledges of "hope and change" and campaign speeches that suggested future generations would look upon his election as the beginning of Utopia . . . his campaign wrote a check that he could not possible cash."

You could argue that, and you'd be wrong.

You're absurd notion about what people thought the election of Obama would mean for Washington is steeped in the right-wing characature of Obama supporters. The fact that you use that as support for your argument means either your complete ignorant on what you're talking about, or blatently dishonest.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 11, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

OT:

Reid Asks How Hispanics -- Or Anyone -- Could Vote Republican (VIDEO)

"""Sen. Reid has long enjoyed the support of many Hispanic Republicans in Nevada and he appreciates that support. Sen. Reid's contention was simply that he doesn't understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise, would vote for Republican candidates because they oppose saving teachers' jobs, oppose job-creating tax incentives for small businesses, oppose investments in job-creating clean energy projects, and oppose the help for struggling, unemployed Nevadans to put food on the table and stay in their homes.

"Nevadans are suffering in this economy. Senator Reid was rightly pointing out that Republicans like Sharron Angle who oppose job-creating measures and unemployment benefits, oppose emergency aid to save 1200 Nevada teachers, and who want to wipe out critical programs like Social Security and Medicare, are part of the problem, not part of the solution."""

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/reid-asks-how-hispanics----or-anyone----could-vote-republican-video.php

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 11, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think the GOP is trying to kill this country"

Then what do you call opposing state aid for teachers and the poor that is fully paid for when it was requested by more than a dozen GOP Govs?

What do you call extending tax cuts for the rich at a time of record deficits?

What do you call... nevermind.

If you're as "sensible" as the Republicans get, and certainly that is the case on this blog at least, then the GOP might as well be run by Osama Bin Laden.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 11, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Reagan spoke of Morning In America, and A Shining City On A Hill.

There is some "Utopia" speak for you Kevin; and it was uttered by Ronald Reagan, long before Obama arrived on the national scene.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 11, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I thought the question was about approval of Congress, not just one party's Congressional caucus. I can easily approve of what the Democrats have been able to do, and still have an unfavorable attitude about Congress in general. I'm so disgusted by the scorched-earth policy of the five-year-olds in the GOBP and the battered-spouse syndrome of the Democrats that my attitude about Congress as a whole is at an all-time low. Still, none of that will prevent me from voting. The Democrats have been disappointing, by and large, but the Republicans are infinitely worse.

Posted by: azportsider | August 11, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

@mike: "Here's the problem I see with this new breed of pundits and "activists." They established themselves to be anti-establishment. They thrived in the Bush years as being anti-establishment and that is what comes natural. Not only did they thrive at being anti-establishment, those that turn to them for guidance to help form opinions also only know how to exist in an anti-establishment state."


THIS! An excellent point. I've thought this, too, for quite awhile. Thanks for stating it. In many cases, old habits die hard, if they die at all.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 11, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

2KW:I'd argue that even without GOP obstructionism, Obama's campaign promised the undeliverable,

Well kevin, I have to agree with bbq that you would be wrong. If we only needed 51 votes for HCR and finreg they would be significantly better and the dem base would not be so disheartened about the compromises that simply weakened the bills. EFCA and climate change would have passed the senate, the stimulus would have been more stimulative, another round of stimulus could have been passed, Obama would have had the universe of who could be a supreme expanded, all judges and appointments would be in place, etc....

You can't deny that dems would be in a much better place if these things had happened and that blatant, relentless, and unproductive(the GOP offered nothing of substance to any of the debates, just tried to weaken dem bills), GOP obstruction was a winning political strategy, even if it severely weakened and continues to hamper the recovery...

I don't agree that "your complete ignorant on what you're talking about, or blatently dishonest." I think you are dead wrong here, but not necessarily ignorant or dishonest.

Posted by: srw3 | August 11, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@mike: "Here's the problem I see with this new breed of pundits and "activists." They established themselves to be anti-establishment. They thrived in the Bush years as being anti-establishment and that is what comes natural. Not only did they thrive at being anti-establishment, those that turn to them for guidance to help form opinions also only know how to exist in an anti-establishment state."

THIS! Thanks! I've thought this same thing for a long time. Old habits die hard...if they die at all.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 11, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Sure wish the WaPo would invest in a better platform....sorry for the duplicate post.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 11, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

All, this should cheer you up:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/public_evenly_split_on_amendin.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 11, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@suekzoo: I don't agree that progressives are being mindlessly anti-establishment. Let's face it, most of the cogent left (not the screamers and the fdl clones) made substantive criticisms of what was coming out of congress. The DFH crowd didn't gratuitously go after dems. They did point out that the Obama political strategy of starting with an "acceptable" compromise (only to have it compromised again and again) instead of a real vision of what should be was a huge mistake, both with the stimulus and HCR. They saw that the gop was batsh*t crazy and wouldn't bargain in good faith. They did point out that Obama has continued some of the worst national security policies that the bushies put in place and didn't even do hearings on all of the illegality of the bush administration. They did point out that the mortgage crisis was not going away and that cram downs were necessary and not happening. They continue to point out that 10% unemployment is a national emergency and deserves immediate action or at least daily pummeling of repubs for voting against job creation from the bully pulpit. They did point out that the Fed could be doing a lot more and might if Obama had actually appointed the governors promptly.

Sorry, the left is not the right. They (we?) believe in calling out our own when they are not doing right. Perhaps we haven't been generous enough with praise for the things that are better, but advocating for better solutions, solutions that will actually address the many problems we have in a more direct way, seems more important than "Atta boy" cheerleading.

Posted by: srw3 | August 11, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I totally disagree with characterizing Obama's and Congress's "historic string of legislative victories" as comparable with FDR in either scope or ambition. If that were true, Democrats would have overwhelming support going into this election!

Wallstreet reform could have been like FDR's New Deal, instead it was watered down to protect profits. The Stimulus could have been like America Works, but instead it was half tax cuts. FDR didn't pass a healthcare plan, but Johnson did, and Obama's plan is closer to the alternative Nixon wanted than what Johnson gave us. If Obama had been half the leader FDR or Johnson were, democrats would be in much better shape this fall.

Posted by: mikediaz1 | August 11, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

mike and sue, if anti-establishment means fighting against a corporate controlled Congress and WH then count me in. People like to marginalize progressives because they have loud voices and don't always like to settle for less. That's fine, I think some of the rhetoric coming from a few "professional" leftists has not been all that helpful. But if you look at the reality of their complaints, they are legitimate, in the essence of corporate power.

I think Obama would like to change this dynamic but hasn't really made inroads there yet, maybe it's impossible, I don't know. That's what most of us are pushing so hard for and obviously it would be much worse if Republicans take back control of Congress, so I'm certainly not on board with any of the apathy or third party crap.

Posted by: lmsinca | August 11, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@swr2: I don't agree that 'your complete ignorant on what you're talking about, or blatently dishonest.' I think you are dead wrong here, but not necessarily ignorant or dishonest."

I think that's much more fair. I would still argue that the scenario you paint is a "perfect world" scenario. In any scenario, given the proviso that conditions are all perfect and everything works exactly as planned, of course the results would be much improved. But that never happens. That, in and of itself, is an unreasonable expectation.

Let's say that the Dems had a super-super majority in the senate--which, again, is so rare as to never happen--and got everything they wanted. Would HCR with a public option be more inspiring, or less so, to Tea Partiers? What about Republicans running on repeal of socialized medicine, versus mild insurance reform? Let's say they had implemented Cap and Trade and let the Bush tax cuts expire and a few other things--how does that play with the punditry, the Independents, the centrists and the fence sitters? Eventually, even unchecked (political) success works against you. A much more successful progressive agenda would play well with the further left, but not so well with moderates and independents. But then, it wasn't every going to happen, because the Dems were never going to get a super-super majority, or even have an ideologically pure majority where there were no conservadems.

The other alternative would be a senate without a filibuster. Which would require the Dems to give up the filibuster, or try to strike it where they didn't like it, but keep it where they wanted it, and that would never happen, either.

If Obama has superpowers and was a 7th level Dungeon Master and could boost the economy by transmuting lead to gold, yes, of course things would be much, much better for him.

In the real world, he wasn't going magically make the Afghanistan and Iraq wars go away, or get single-payer healthcare (at least, not without deep sacrifices, even if just for folks within the Democratic party), close Gitmo (because, um, like, what do you do with the prisoners there now?) and so on. So, in the end, I disagree. Even without the Republican obstruction, the Obama campaign made promises it really could not deliver on. And there are folks out there--if not commenting here--that are disappointed that Obama is a human being operating under the limitations of an executive presiding over a fractious country.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 11, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@BBQChicken: "The fact that you use that as support for your argument means either your complete ignorant on what you're talking about, or blatently dishonest."

I notice people you disagree with almost always have to be either completely ignorant, or blatantly dishonest. An interesting consistency.

"You're absurd notion about what people thought the election of Obama would mean for Washington is steeped in the right-wing characature of Obama supporters"

I disagree. To quote Obama, from his campaign:

"Because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another—a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States . . .

"You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment—a moment that will define a generation—we cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say—let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America . . .

"… She needs us to pass a health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it. That's the change we need . . . America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

"Generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals."

You say "right-wing characiture of Obama supporters", I say "reasoned opinion based on the campaign Obama ran, and his own words". Tomato, ta-mah-to, let's call the whole thing off.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 11, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010: "If you're as 'sensible' as the Republicans get, and certainly that is the case on this blog at least, then the GOP might as well be run by Osama Bin Laden."

*sigh*

Ethan, if someone says to you, on any issue, something like "If you're as 'sensible' as the Democrats get, then we might as well all be in the gulags under Josef Stalin", what would your reaction be? Would you think, "Gosh, well, he certainly showed me."? Or, "what a thoughtful point, I need to rethink all this liberalism I'm so enamored with". I mean, discussion-wise, I'm not sure (other than just ignore it) what I'm supposed to do with stuff like that.

Perhaps I lack the intellect, or nuance, to take the dialog to the next level. Sorry, I don't think the GOP is killing this country. I also don't think the Democrats are killing this country, or the liberals, or the progressives, or the Tea Partiers. If this allies me, in your mind, with Osama Bin Laden . . . okay, well, maybe I'm dense, but I just don't get that.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 11, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Mike Lux, who has been an insider and worked on progressive causes for years has a good take on Gibbs statement and the overall lack of outreach to progressives from this WH.

"Gibbs' statement has caused a flurry of damage control, just as all the other statements in paragraph one did. But it's not enough: this White House has to do a better job of working constructively, every single day, with progressives. The White House should be in genuine partnership with the progressive community. That doesn't mean agreeing on every issue, and it doesn't mean avoiding some frank conversations behind the scenes where voices get raised back and forth. But progressives, including the "professional left" would be a lot more loyal and enthusiastic, a lot more willing to give credit where credit is due, if they felt like the White House cared what they thought.

Our job as progressives is to never be satisfied, to always be impatient with the pace of change. Frederick Douglass, Alice Paul, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, Jr.- none of them were ever satisfied with the progress being made, and the Presidents they worked with were constantly aggravated at the pressure they received. But big changes got done when Presidents understood the importance of working effectively with them and the movements they represented. It is time for Obama (and his staff) to understand this and make the effort. Even when we are being irritating, even when you think we are being unfair, the White House needs to reach out their hand to progressives and work with us instead of venting about us to the media. FDR understood that and got re-elected by landslides with enthusiastic base support in the toughest of times. LBJ understood that in 1964, got re-elected in a landslide with progressives happily behind him, but then forgot it and let Vietnam break his party in the '68 election. Bill Clinton understood that, avoided a primary in tough political circumstances, and won re-election easily with a pumped up progressive community strongly behind him. I hope President Obama comes to understand that it is your base, including the professional left, that can sustain you in tough economic and political times, but that you need to reach out to them rather than complain about them."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-lux/obama-and-the-left-part-2_b_678443.html

Posted by: lmsinca | August 11, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line: If Obama and the Democrats had done even half of what the Liberals reasonably expected the Democratic Party would be looking at solidifying a vise-grip on Congress. Instead, they have totally lost control of the national discussion and they are in grave danger of losing control of Congress. And the the White House blames the Left for its own fecklessness and incompetence. Idiots.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 11, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"what's happening with the book"

Very soon. Thanks for asking.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 11, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"But progressives, including the "professional left" would be a lot more loyal and enthusiastic, a lot more willing to give credit where credit is due, if they felt like the White House cared what they thought."

Yeah, calling people F-ing retards and comparing them to Teabaggers isn't what I'd call effective motivation.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 11, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin Why would Obama have needed a super-super majority. He had a super majority, why wasn't that enough?

The criticism from the left is not that Obama tried, but unfortunately reality didn't let him pass progressive legislation. Rather progressives are upset that Obama didn't try hard enough!

Take Healthcare reform, progressives were saying the Dems could use reconciliation to pass it in the spring of 09! If Dems had passed it then, they may not have lost their 60th seat the following January. But instead responding to what the left asked, the WH complained that progressives just don't understand the political reality. A year later, after losing their 60th seat, dems conceded that they had to use reconciliation to pass it.

Posted by: mikediaz1 | August 11, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

President Obama is in charge of the Executive Branch. He was not running the US Senate.

It sounds like some of the Lunatic Left expected him to behave as a Unitary Executive.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 11, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm a staunch Democrat and I am very dissatisfied with congress currently. Not the house, which is doing its job, but with the Senate and the tyranny of the minority that holds sway there. I am not upset with the Democratic leadership, nearly so much as I am with Republican obstruction, secret holds and the abuse of the filibuster. I'd say most other Democrats are irked at the lack of democracy and transparency in the Senate.

Posted by: wd1214 | August 11, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Mr Sargent's "analysis" is interesting for what it omits. There is no mention of the possibility that some democrats aren't as liberal as Mr Sargent and are therefore concerned that reckless spending, crony capitalism, the nationalisation of large chunks of the economy and the failure to read (or even name) bills they approve will do lasting damage to the country and their party.

the failure to even mention alternative possibilities damages Mr Sargent's credibility.

Further, I must echo Kevin's point. Mr Sargent's euphemistic phrase "seemed to hint at a transformative moment" is laughable.

Obama promised the moon and the stars as Kevin subsequently pointed out. that he can't deliver is his problem. Perhaps a bit more tenure in the senate would have taught Obama the value of reticence.

It is really funny to watch the left change positions so blithely. From honoring the fillibuster as a way to prevent the "tyranny of the majority" to hating it as an "obstructionist tool" the liberals really do think they can have it both ways.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | August 11, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

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