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White House Cheat Sheet: Rumblings on the Left?

Is the President Obama losing his grip on the base? White House photo by Pete Souza

President Obama has enjoyed a honeymoon of epic proportions with the liberal base of the Democratic Party but that relationship is showing early signs of strain following his acknowledgment over the weekend that hundreds of millions more may need to be spent to bailout the financial community.

In an interview with the New York Times, Obama floated the idea that another $750 billion -- in addition to the $700 billion already allocated -- might be necessary to stabilize the faltering banks across the country.

That brought an almost immediate response from the liberal left, with a select group set to launch a series of online chats this week aimed at cutting off any more spending by Congress until every dollar is accounted for. Florida freshman Rep. Alan Grayson will kick off the chats later today.

Jane Hamsher, the founder of Firedoglake, the site on which the chats will be hosted, described the effort as "clearing the ground for what needs to be done" -- playing the bad cop to Obama's good cop.

"The legislation for [the economic] stimulus was written because [Maine Republican Sen. Susan] Collins and [Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben] Nelson needed to be appeased," added Hamsher. "This frees Obama up."

A series of online chats does not make for a serious crack in Obama's solid base support. In fact, in the most recent Washington Post/ABC News survey, 90 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of liberals expressed approval for the job the president is doing -- well above Obama's overall score of 68 percent.

But, it does suggest that liberal left is increasingly willing to raise questions about the actions of the Democratic-controlled Congress and Obama himself.

The left -- particularly online -- came of age during the presidency of George W. Bush, defining itself and its mission in opposition to the Republican president. Now, it is faced with finding a place in a political world where Democrats control all the levers of power in Washington.

What's clear is that liberals will not simply lay down for Obama. They are clearly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but only so much divergence from their core principles will be accepted. It's a fascinating storyline to watch over the coming weeks and months.

Obama on Education: Tackling yet another massive domestic policy concern, President Obama will deliver remarks on reforming the education system today at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's legislative conference in Washington, D.C. Asked about such an ambitious agenda, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs suggested the aggressiveness was part of Obama's pledge to make major change in the way the nation's capital works. "We can either decide, as Washington typically has, to kick the can down the road and hope that either the problem goes away or that somebody else will come and solve it, or we can address the challenges that ... face our country and undermine our long-term economic growth," said Gibbs.

Tuesday Must Reads: Tuesday is the new Friday. Or not.

1. Warren Buffett, "Squawk Box," and the peril of economic cliff metaphors.
2. Christianity on the retreat in America. (USA Today charts it.)
3. The Supreme Court rules that the Voting Rights Act doesn't apply to legislative districts with a minority population under 50 percent. HUGE implications for 2010 Census and subsequent redistricting battles.
4. The "Draft Sarah" movement begins in, of all places, Connecticut.
5. The New Yorker on Neko Case -- a Mrs. Fix favorite -- and her new album. (Buy it!)

2012 Like It's Tomorrow: Over the weekend, the influential Club For Growth held its winter conference in Palm Beach, Fla. -- a gathering that featured keynote speeches by two leading contenders for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. The Club sees fit to close these conferences to the press (BOOOO!) so you are limited to the group's blog for an official account of the proceedings. But, the unofficial reports (always more delicious) weren't kind to Romney. Ken Silverstein, writing on Harper's blog, quoted an attendee of the meeting who said Romney was defensive and ill-at-ease when asked about the health care plan passed in Massachusetts on his watch. "Mitt's efforts to be all things to all people continue to cause him problems," wrote the source. But, according to a Fix source in the room, that report was a bit overstated. "The Harpers' blurb was exaggerated," said the source. "[Romney] did receive a couple of tough questions about his Massachusetts health care mandate, but he handled them well." These early skirmishes never penetrate to the average voter but that doesn't mean they don't matter. How each candidate performs in early dog and pony shows builds (or destroys) buzz -- a critical asset over the next two years.

California Dreamin': New polling in the California governor's race confirms what we've long known: if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) runs, she starts out as the clear favorite. A new Field poll showed Feinstein leading the Democratic primary field with 38 percent of the vote, more than double the support for either state Attorney General Jerry Brown (16 percent) or Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (16 percent) and triple the number who back San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (10 percent). In a sign of how meaningless statewide office (outside of governor or Senate) is in California, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D) takes just four percent. Without Feinstein in the race -- and smart operatives continue to believe she will ultimately not run -- it is much more wide open with Brown in the lead at 26 percent followed by Villaraigosa (22 percent) and Newsom (16 percent). It would seem that no one knows the Republican candidates, with a majority of voters (54 percent) calling themselves undecided.

Replacing Woodhouse: Filling the shoes of Brad Woodhouse, who left his position at the head of Americans United for Change, a liberal interest group, to take over as communications director of the Democratic National Committee, is a herculean task. Woodhouse is a mile-a-minute talker with a knack for media coverage; witness his "praise the Lord, pass the potato salad" subject line in a recent email to reporters (Who else would even think to do that?). But, Tom McMahon, the former executive director at the Democratic National Committee and a principal in New Partners, is willing to take on the burden -- signing up to serve as the acting head of AUFC while the search for a new leader goes on. "I'm honored to take on the challenge of shepherding what has become one of the most important progressive advocacy groups in the country," said McMahon of the move. Make no mistake: There is a HUGE behind the scenes scrap going on among a variety of liberal interest groups for control of AUFC -- the most proven outside interest group currently operating on the left.

Twitter Time: Our pledge drive toward 10,000 Twitter followers continues. We are nearing 8,000! Say you were there at the beginning...show up your friends! Sign up for "TheFix" and "TheHyperFix" today. Heck, someone won a free t-shirt yesterday.

Say What?: "I am not a public speaker...I am a private schemer." -- White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, a graduate of the Boise public schools, during a speech at the Frank Church Banquet in Idaho over the weekend.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 10, 2009; 5:41 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: MN-Senate: Will It Ever End?
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I wish I could draw. Someone needs to make a political cartoon of Obama reading from a teleprompter with a curtain at his side. Behind the curtain a man with a hammer and sickle shirt on typing on a computer giving Obama what to read on his teleprompter.

The tag line could be "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtian."
Our country is turning into a socalist OZ.

Posted by: TonyTwoToes | March 11, 2009 3:00 AM | Report abuse

As an ex-Democrat (from the progressive wing) I can state unequivocally that it has ALWAYS been my position that for me, personally, it has never been a question of IF Obama would disappoint me, but to WHAT DEGREE he would do so.

Posted by: nbahn | March 10, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Rumblings from the Left? I think rumblings from anyone that doesn't want to be a loser socialist. The economy in shambles even before the confiscatory taxes kick in. Reeker Pelosi demanding the US Air Force be her private airline. Hollywood types dressing like pious muslims tutoring Iranians how to improve their propaganda. Former gitmo prisoner back in action in Afganistan. Barry pandering to a different groups everyday. Ain't socialism grand?

Posted by: leapin | March 10, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Can't see anything that Feinstein has acomplished for the State or the Country. Frankly, Schwarz... (however you spell it)is a better Governor than she could ever be(and I'm a LIBERAL!).

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | March 10, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

The Zouk is loose!!!

So you mention the teleprompter thing. I saw the FOX News segment on Saturday morning where they were mocking him. This coming from a news anchor WHO ALL READ FROM TELEPROMPTERS!!!

Its fine. GOP still follows Rove. Attack one of Obamas best assests- he elegant speaking. History remembers words not teleprompters.

I dont see parliment or Gordan Brown complaining. I see the tabloids complaining, which is like US weekly complaining.

You'll see Zouk that when Cameron is PM. Him and Obama will make a great team.

Posted by: PJF311 | March 10, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I can't think of anything better for Obama than to have a vocal minority on the left flank accusing him of being just like Bush.

Yeah, just like him.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 10, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

TO: ATTY. GEN. ERIC HOLDER (staff, please forward)




President Obama does not yet seem to be cognizant of a frightening reality -- that the Bush "torture memos" were used to justify "programs of personal destruction" that REMAIN IN PLACE ON HIS WATCH.

Obama must come to realize that federal agencies and commands have enabled the ONGOING covert microwave radiation weapons torture and physical degradation of U.S. citizens deemed "undesirables," "mental defectives" and "dissidents"...

...as well as the nationwide GPS-enabled "community gang stalking" of U.S. citizens, who are hunted down like prey by citizen vigilante goons as "target" vehicles and implanted GPS devices enter the "crown of evil" GPS screen grid of the gang-stalkers.

It appears that Obama and most liberal/progressives have yet to realize that the "war on terror" appears to have been a premeditated pretext for an American genocide/politicide -- a horrific silent holocaust that has destroyed, and continues to destroy, untold thousands, if not millions, of American families and no doubt has contributed to economic tumult.

One person who WAS aware, and deserves vindication, is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

What has been happened since the dawning of the Bush administration has turned a just society into the "US of KKK-A," as harsh and impolitic as that sounds.

And the 21st century version of the Klan -- an American Gestapo -- remains on the march -- hiding behind covert federal "programs of personal financial destruction" and federally-funded community policing and town watch programs co-sponsored by local law enforcement nationwide.

President Obama must act immediately to restore American civil and human rights -- because each day he delays, the forces running these programs, the forces who will resist whatever "change" his presidency offers, are one day closer to making it impossible him to fulfill the "hope" he still embodies.

For more on "Gestapo USA" and why team Obama must move immediately to dismantle the Bush-Cheney "extrajudicial punishment network"...


PS. -- Anyone reading this with access to decision-makers on Team Obama (notably, David Axelrod) and in Congress: Please send them this missive.

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 10, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The action of snubbing our best friends britain and Canada, while kissing up to china, Russia, Taliban, Syria etc is disturbing. Change you can expect from jimmy carter.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 10, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"King Zouk loves to bring up the "GOP SILLY CRISIS OF THE WEEK." ... The tabloid brit press complains about gifts."

I am somewhat surprised that zouk is now siding with the liberal european press. Probably orders pomme frites with his foie gras too.

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 10, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"Our goal is to bring down approval numbers for [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and for House Democrats. That will take repetition. This is a marathon, not a sprint."

Wasn't that the strategy in 2008? Good luck with that plan, boys. Perhaps by 2012 they will realize that the voters want solutions, not childish squabbling.

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 10, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Remember only yesterday when 'fiscal conservatives' were considered Republican?

Now comes the news: "That brought an almost immediate response from the liberal left, ... aimed at cutting off any more spending by Congress until every dollar is accounted for."

Did the Republican's trade away 'fiscal conservatives' for a draft pick or something?

Posted by: DonJasper | March 10, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Obama, are you a socialist?

Let me telephone you when I get back to my TelePrompTer. I usually don't speak without it.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 10, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Republicans need to stop acting like spoiled and pampered children when they don't get their way. Democrats need to stop acting like school yard bullies. In this rough economic time, Americans expect lesiglators to act responsibly and not like bickering children in a school yard. Legislators need to demonstrate they are for the American Team and not for the Repulbican or Democratic Team. It's not about which party is best for America it's about their coming together to do what's best for America.

Republicans need to stop their protectionist stance on issues and need to change their paradigms which have led to this mess. Their old paradigms don't work.

On another note, I'm disappointed in Congress for their unwillingness to stop their own pay raise for this year. Sure they're not taking a pay raise in 2010, but they should also do it for this year because by their actions they sure don't deserve a pay raise. It seems they can ask others to limit their pay raises but when it comes to them they take a not in my front yard approach.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | March 10, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

King Zouk loves to bring up the "GOP SILLY CRISIS OF THE WEEK."

The tabloid brit press complains about gifts. They complain about Obama returning a bust that Blair gave to BUSH.

Im suprised he hasnt mentioned socialism, or how Obama is talking about Rush. Oh wait, that was last weeks fake silly crisis.

Maybe King Zouk is Rep. McHenry.

Posted by: PJF311 | March 10, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Another day, another 400 billion. But no earmarks. Except those 8000. And no lobbyists. No tax cheats. Except .....

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 10, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

this week we learned of the utter incompetence of the rest of the Obama admin. The state dept can't speak Russian and the gift department heads for the sale rack at walmart. And you thought it was just economics that was an total failure.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 10, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Good for the Dems - marching in ideological lockstep is bad for the country as we witnessed all too well during the last 8 years. Now if only the Republicans could learn that lesson >.

Posted by: jk_newhard | March 10, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Rep. Patrick McHenry is a huge dick.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | March 10, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"We will lose on legislation. But we will win the message war every day, and every week, until November 2010," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., an outspoken conservative who has participated on the GOP message teams.

-as opposed to, "We will compromise with the other party where possible in order to produce results for the American people during this time of great economic turnoil," which is (basically) Obama's message. (not a direct quote, obviously) The presdent is trying to do the job he was elected to do, and the House GOP is trying to keep him from doing it. That says a lot.

"Our goal is to bring down approval numbers for [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and for House Democrats. That will take repetition. This is a marathon, not a sprint."

-This is just about the most immature and least productive focus possible.

Posted by: bokonon13 | March 10, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I assumed this Left Wing movement would unfold at some point...we (the Right/Mod's) think he is too liberal and the Left thinks he is too centrist. President Obama does have one good point, everyone need to 'take a pill' and digest some of this prior to getting all looney..no one, not even Obama and his Uncle Warren can predict the future or make this go away today.

Fortunately we have Mr. Gibbs to clarify things each day...

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 10, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Everyone needs to give Obama a break., It's always something negative. If he was specifically courting the Left and somehow "pandering" to that crowd, the press would be all over an "out of touch" and "liberal" Obama.

Instead, he's playing to the majority of Americans with intelligent and moderate plans and he gets hammered for abandoning the party base.


Posted by: parkerfl1 | March 10, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

PS Chris. Twitter is the lamest thing in a while. When politicians are leading the charge, you know its a lame system. If McCain thinks he is hip using it, there is a good chance is sucks.

Posted by: PJF311 | March 10, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Wow. A party that actually stands for something!! Chris is supposed to find the Democratic party having a problem when they support their ideals and not just people. This is the difference. This is CHANGE for the better.

The GOP supports their own people and their personal power. This is what the GOP believes:
"We will lose on legislation. But we will win the message war every day, and every week, until November 2010," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., an outspoken conservative who has participated on the GOP message teams. "Our goal is to bring down approval numbers for [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and for House Democrats. That will take repetition. This is a marathon, not a sprint."

Posted by: PJF311 | March 10, 2009 6:42 AM | Report abuse

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