Liberal bloggers are bringing down Obama, part II: It’s NOT the economy, stupid, it’s Obama’s character

September 29, 2010 by · 15 Comments 

My post, How a handful of liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency, provoked a range of responses and I’d like to address the dominant themes. Here’s an excerpt of the piece for context:

When Robert Gibbs attacked the professional left he didn’t specify anyone by name, but the assumption was that it was cable personalities, disaffected interest groups, bloggers and online commenters. With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher. Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power.

The essence of their critique is that the White House lacks a moral compass. The instances where Obama displays a flash of moral authority – the mosque speech comes to mind – these bloggers cheer him with the same fervor as his most ardent fans.

Some will dismiss them as minor players in the wider national discourse, but two things make them a thorn in the administration’s side: a) they have a disproportionately large influence on the political debate, with numerous readers and followers — among them major media figures; and b) they develop the frames and narratives that other progressive Obama critics adopt and disseminate

I’ve argued for some time that the story of Barack Obama’s presidency is the story of how the left turned on him. And it eats him up. You know it from Robert Gibbs, you know it from Rahm Emanuel, you know it from Joe Biden and you know it from Obama himself. The constant refrain that liberals don’t appreciate the administration’s accomplishments betrays deep frustration. It was a given the right would try to destroy Obama’s presidency. It was a given Republicans would be obstructionists. It was a given the media would run with sensationalist stories. It was a given there would be a natural dip from the euphoric highs of the inauguration. Obama’s team was prepared to ride out the trough(s). But they were not prepared for a determined segment of the left to ignore party and focus on principle, to ignore happy talk and demand accountability.

As president, Obama has done much good and has achieved a number of impressive legislative victories. He is a smart, thoughtful and disciplined man. He has a wonderful family. His staff are good and decent people trying to improve their country and working tirelessly under extreme stress. But that doesn’t mean progressives should set aside the things they’ve fought for their entire adult life. It doesn’t mean they should stay silent if they think the White House is undermining the progressive cause.

Point #1 (Does the White House really care about a handful of liberal bloggers?)

Although several readers disagreed that bloggers had the power I was attributing to them, there was general consensus that they were an annoyance to the White House.

Politico said that Bill Burton’s silence reveals how the White House feels:

Who, exactly, makes up this “professional left” that is so bothering President Barack Obama and his advisers? On Tuesday, Gibbs’ deputy, Bill Burton, made it clear that the occasionally critical cable personalities originally associated with this comment have the administration’s blessing. “If you’re on the left, if you’re somebody like Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow or one of the folks who helps to keep our government honest and pushes and prods to make sure that folks are true to progressive values, then [the president] thinks that those folks provide an invaluable service.” Burton told reporters. Noticeably absent from Burton’s embrace was anyone from the blogosphere once courted so avidly by the White House. Peter Daou thinks he knows why…”

Ezra Klein, as well-sourced as anyone I know, writes:

Peter Daou is right that liberal bloggers are getting under Obama’s skin.

Point #2 (Do liberal bloggers want to bring down Obama?)

The title of my post (“How a handful of liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency“) was largely interpreted as a slam on the bloggers themselves. It certainly wasn’t meant as one, which I hope was clear from the body of the post. Rather, it was intended as a literal observation that a small group with disproportionate influence was contributing to President Obama’s depressed approval ratings by holding him accountable whenever he appeared to undermine core Democratic and progressive principles.

Which is why I said “bringing down” not “brought down.” The former is a question of degree, and reversible, the latter much less so. And nowhere did I argue that these bloggers wanted to bring down the administration. Quite the opposite. In a concurrent tweet, I said: “Critical difference between Obama’s liberal critics and his conservative ones is that the former want him to succeed, the latter to fail.”

Point #3 (Wouldn’t Obama be doing fine if people had jobs?)

Notwithstanding the opening sentence (“This post was originally written about the frightening case of Anwar al-Aulaqi”), a number of readers took issue with what they perceived as an inordinate focus on civil liberties and rights. They contended that Obama’s problems boil down to the bad economy, no more no less.

Alex Pareene at Salon:

I think the principled civil libertarian critique of Obama is completely correct — and I also think it has little to do with his, or the Democratic Party’s, unpopularity. I think if the economy was booming and unemployment was low, Glenn Greenwald would still be completely correct and the president would be much more popular.

Glenn Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler, two of the bloggers I referenced in the piece, echoed that refrain.

Glenn:

I think the reason why people are so angry at Democrats and disenchanted with Obama has very little – basically nothing – to do with what bloggers have been saying, and everything to do with the fact that there are no jobs and millions of people are having their homes foreclosed.

Marcy:

As much as I focus on torture & assassination, I’d buck up a lot faster if the Admin focused on helping people save their homes.

It’s always daunting to cross verbal swords with the likes of Glenn and Marcy, but even though it’s indisputable that a better economic environment would benefit Obama, I think pinning the president’s troubles on the economy is an incomplete reading of the social and political climate.

For one thing, most Americans still blame Bush:

Nearly two years into his presidency, 51% of Americans say President Barack Obama bears little to no blame for U.S. economic problems, while 48% assign him a great deal or moderate amount of blame. More Americans now blame Obama than did so a year ago, but a substantially higher percentage, 71%, blame former President George W. Bush. LINK

A majority of the country still believes that President Obama isn’t responsible for the state of the U.S. economy, but the number has steadily declined since his presidency began. According to the brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 56 percent think Obama inherited the economic situation, versus 32 percent who say his policies are responsible for it. LINK

For all their economic gripes, 52 percent of Americans say they’d rather have President Obama than his predecessor in control of economic policy, vs. 35 percent who’d prefer to have former President Bush in charge. LINK

For another thing, there’s actually a case to be made in favor of the administration’s economic policies, not least of which are avoiding a depression and saving the auto industry. Ezra elaborates:

A $787 billion stimulus? Yes, it was too small. But everything Washington does is always too small. And within the confines of that stimulus, the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress managed to make a host of long-term investments that would’ve been considered huge accomplishments in any other context, but are largely unknown inside this one. Huge investments in green energy, in health information technology, in high-speed rail, in universal broadband, in medical research, in infrastructure. The Making Work Pay tax cut. The Race to the Top education reform program. No recent president has invested in the country on anything like that level.

The fact of financial reform is less impressive given the fact of the financial crisis, and readers know that I’m skeptical about the final design of the bill. But the consumer protection agency really is an important addition that might not have been included if the White House was occupied by a different team. There are the smaller items that, in any other administration, would be seen as achievements. Menu labeling in chain restaurants. The Independent Payment Advisory Board to bring down Medicare costs. Ted Kennedy’s SERVE America Act. And then there’s what didn’t happen: The financial system didn’t collapse. Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke and George W. Bush deserve some of the credit for that — though they also deserve some of the blame for not preventing the crisis in the first place. But as Ben Smith says, TARP, which was begun by Bush and implemented by Obama, is probably one of the most successful policies in American history — and it’s also one of the least popular.

(Steve Benen has made a similar case, as have others.)

The reality is that Obama’s problems have been brewing from the day he took office. They came to a head during the health insurance battle and they have been exacerbated by an ailing economy and a series of events, actions and decisions, many of which seem insignificant against the backdrop of a back-breaking recession, but taken together, reinforce doubts about Obama’s ideological and moral compass.

For nearly two years, I’ve written about the demise of “hope and change,” basing my arguments on two related theses:

1. The convergence of left-right opinion is a critical factor in the shaping of conventional wisdom against Obama.

2. A range of acts and omissions have resulted in a sense that Obama lacks moral authority, lacks the courage of his convictions, lacks convictions, all fatal impressions for a leader.

On the first, I’ve argued that  the cauldron of opinion that churns incessantly on blogs, Twitter, social networks, and in the elite media generates the storylines that filter across the national and local press, providing the fodder for public opinion and ultimately determining conventional wisdom.  Typically, countervailing left-right narratives create enough tension to prevent the public from rapidly congealing around a single view. However, in some cases (Bush with Katrina, Obama on health care), left and right come to agree that a political leader is on the wrong track. It is this merging of left-right opinion that has damaged Obama. He can sustain relentless attacks from the right – it’s what everyone expects – but when the left joins in, the bottom drops out. That’s why opinion-shapers in the liberal blogosphere exert inordinate influence over Obama’s fortunes. And from the growing alarm at the White House, it’s clear they know it.

This is directly related to the second thesis, that Obama’s problem is not about policy but about character. Here’s how I framed it in a recent post:

Obama and Democrats have undermined their own moral authority by continuing some of Bush’s’ most egregious policiesEverything flows from the public’s belief that you stand for something. The most impressive legislative wins lose their force if people become convinced you’ll sell out your own values.

It would be unfair and silly to portray all Democrat politicians as devoid of moral convictions, but it’s not inaccurate to state that there is a widespread phobia among Democrats of appearing “weak,” which paradoxically leads to behavior that further reinforces that impression. When you fret too much over what others think, you tend to contort yourself in an attempt to please, often at the expense of your core beliefs. When the specific complaint is that you’re weak, there is a tendency is to do whatever your critics characterize as strong – and in the case of Democrats, they tend to ignore the strength of their own values and emulate Republicans, ending up looking even weaker in the process. From gay rights to executive power to war to the environment, the left increasingly believes the Obama White House lacks the moral courage to undo Bush’s radicalism.

This is not just a blogospheric theme. The NYT on Monday:

We are starting to wonder whether Congressional Democrats lack the courage of their convictions, or simply lack convictions.

Long before the American public rendered judgment on Obama’s economic policies, a core group of progressive bloggers and activists were expressing alarm at everything from gay rights to Gitmo to torture, women’s reproductive freedom to Afghanistan. They were essentially saying that Obama was betraying his implied and explicit promise to be the anti-Bush.

As far back as May, 2009, I wrote:

Over the past four months there have been a series of flare-ups between the Obama administration and the progressive activist community, centered mainly around the new administration’s willingness (or lack thereof) to reverse Bush-Cheney’s radical excesses in the realm of civil liberties, secrecy, detainee treatment, interrogation, and counter-terrorism.

Ever astute and incisive, Digby raises what I think is the critical point in this entire debate:  “The argument against torture is slipping away from us. In fact, I’m getting the sinking feeling that it’s over. What was once taboo is now publicly acknowledged as completely acceptable by many people. Indeed, disapproval of torture is now being characterized as a strictly partisan issue, like welfare reform or taxes.”

Ari Melber, my former Kerry campaign colleague, takes a parallel tack, arguing that there should be no debate here; torture is illegal. Even Bush acknowledged that. Glenn Greenwald, an indispensible voice on this topic, says bluntly: “Ever since he was inaugurated, Obama has taken one extreme step after the next to keep concealed both the details and the evidence of Bush’s crimes, including rendition, torture and warrantless eavesdropping.”

As has been the case for years, Democratic leaders, operating within the Washington bubble, misconstrue the concerns of the netroots and often privately dismiss them as the rantings of immature outsiders and political neophytes. But as always, the progressive community, a far more efficient thinking machine than a handful of strategists and advisers, is looking ahead and raising a unified alarm. The message is this: anything less than absolute moral clarity from Democrats, who now control the levers of power, will enshrine Bush’s abuses and undermine the rule of law for generations to come.

Setting aside all the campaign slogans about hope and change, what Obama really signifies is a razor sharp break from Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Rice, Rumsfeld, Addington, Libby, Bybee et al. After eight years of damage to the fabric of our Constitution and our nation, the entire point of a new face, a smart, youthful, inspiring Democratic president is to completely and totally reject the Bush years, to reject the lawless behavior, the Orwellian rationales, the blatant disregard of the Constitution. Neglecting to do so, and leaving any doubt about where Democrats stand on these issues, is profoundly detrimental to the country.

This was about Obama’s character, not just his policies, about moral courage and conviction — and the lack of it. The right, led by radio blatherers and the still potent rightwing attack machine, had their sights on Obama’s character from the very beginning. They were bent on destroying him. It’s when the left began conveying doubts about his moral authority that the warnings signs should have started flashing in the West Wing.

The health care debate, with the left’s profound disappointment over the public option and the right’s overwhelming antipathy to a “government takeover” permanently defined and enshrined the previously inchoate impressions of Obama as a man whose obsession with conciliation rendered him incapable of taking an unshakable stand in defense of his principles.

This is how I see the steady unraveling that has led to Obama’s steep drop in the polls and the deflation of the hope bubble. So even though a better economy would improve his standing, to reduce his problems to a poor economy is a gross oversimplification.

P.S. Even though it’s self-explanatory, to avoid any misunderstanding, the word ‘stupid’ in the title is only there as part of the infamous “it’s the economy, stupid” phrase. And saying “it’s Obama’s character” is not a value judgment but a contention that his problems are about character more than policy.

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Comments

15 Responses to “Liberal bloggers are bringing down Obama, part II: It’s NOT the economy, stupid, it’s Obama’s character”
  1. I’m rather surprised there’s such disagreement over whether the problem is with Obama’s character and how his actions have reflected it. Even the post HCR debate is, on many levels, a character issue. The Right seems to be arguing that, while it’s true health reform and help is needed, the government simply isn’t the one to be trusted with the job, and it shouldn’t be costing the tax payers to address it. The Left’s position is; corporations can’t be trusted to do it, so the American people have to do it (even if the government has to ostensibly force them too). That’s very much a character issue. This is why the GOP can claim that most of the country is against HCR; because both sides are pissed about it. But where the GOP is being disingenuous is in pretending most of the country is upset for the same reasons. One side think it’s too much, but a MUCH larger proportion think it’s not enough.

    Even the jobs issue becomes a character debate when you look at what people want Obama to do, in comparison to what he has done. On the progressive side; people want Obama to focus money on green jobs and infrastructure, but the most important thing is that he doesn’t cave to failed republican solutions, like tax cuts for the wealthy. The conservative side thinks he’s coming for what little money they have left, and giving it to lazy, weak, deadbeat poor people. I know, that sound derisive, but it is the only overwhelming theme I can find to their argument. I haven’t even seen most Cons try to claim that there’s any economics-based evidence tax cuts will improve the economy. They just seem to care about giving business owners more money; almost like throwing a $100 bill down a wishing well, hoping a kind and benevolent corporate-fairy will make it all better.

    But even those of us who still believe Obama can pull it out have begun to doubt not only the courage of his convictions, but the convictions themselves. And that is the problem. We believed that, while he wasn’t as progressive as we wanted, Obama was a much better choice than the regressive (or perhaps de-evolved is better) McCain/Palin option. And we weren’t wrong. But we expected a little more progress by now, or at least momentum building. The pervasive feeling seems to be (and in fairness this is my personal feeling too); we WANT a wave of socialism washing over this country. We want a POTUS who says, “Ok, yes, we’re not doing EVERYTHING differently now, but here’s why and what it means to you.” For instance, if the post-inauguration response to GITMO had indicated there was information the public didn’t have, but a plan in place to disseminate and address it over time, and a plan to address the laws we’re breaking by leaving GITMO open, we wouldn’t still be as pissed about that bit campaign let-down. Instead, we didn’t even get a strong assurance that the non-public information informed his behavior. Mostly we just seemed to get patronizing pats on the head.

    We want Obama to say, “Yeah, the economy still isn’t great, but here’s the long term plan, and in the mean time; someone’s going to start collecting checks from that top 1%. I’m sending my buddies Vinnie and Bruno.” Hell, I’d even be thrilled if he said EXACTLY that, in a really sarcastic way, to show he has a sense of humor and proportion. Of course it’s about character. But I don’t think most of the progressive bloggers are so sure he lacks the requisite character, as much as we’re waiting for him to step up and show it. Like frustrated sitcom parents, we know he’s capable of being the man we elected, but we’re very disappointed he hasn’t shown fit to prove it yet.

  2. Tony says:

    Unconvincing, Peter. The problem with character arguments is it’s foolish to look for character in politicians to begin with. The best a President can hope to be is one of the greats– Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy, Franklin– and each of those people had character failings and major hypocrisies. Lincoln, for example, said one thing in South Carolina and something completely different in Illinois, during the same campaign. FDR promised to balance the budget and hammered Hoover for irresponsible spending. And so on and so on. None of these were particularly principled men. Character, maybe, but principle no– and that’s where you go wrong. There’s a difference between rigid adherence to principle, which is anathema to politics, and personal character, which is something more wholistic. “The American Political Tradition” by Richard Hofstadter. It explains these things very well.

    The others — Greenwald, Wheeler, et. al — are right about the economy. People want the President to do three things 1) win wars. 2) Preside over a strong economy. 3) be populist or agree with them on social issues. Note, his actual economic policies don’t matter. All that matters is if things are getting better or worse overall, even if the reasons behind this have nothing to do with what the If the economy is good and there is peace, #3 decides popularity. If the economy is bad, #2 overrides #3. If we’re at war, #1 overrides everything. That’s it, folks!

  3. gmanedit says:

    Want him to succeed at what, cutting Social Security? The Catfood Commission is all his baby.

    He was sent to destroy the Democrats and neuter the left. How much more success can we take?

  4. Binky_bear says:

    The core issue that is eating Obama alive is the commitment to justice, which he clearly does not have or seem to understand. Not law, which is fickle and crooked and corrupt and subject to tricks and deceit, but real justice. It is injust that regular people were hoodwinked by loan sharks and the federal government took their tax money to bail out the sharks (who gave themselves bonuses) and used the rest to hire law enforcement and crooked courts to take their houses.
    It is injust that we have violated our constitution and numerous treaties to punish people who our corrupt proxies have declared to be terrorists, holding children for years in secret prisons, torturing, raping, and murdering people in our custody. For Obama to seal the injustice by covering up for its perpetrators is a clear sign of injustice, as well as a giant red flag indicating that these atrocities will soon be committed here at home soon as well.
    It is injust that corporations have more rights and powers than citizens. It is injust that our entire government is seemingly owned by a few billionaires.
    It is injust that our government is helping BP to cover up the environmental disaster it spawned in the gulf.
    Obama’s behavior has simply reinforced the beliefs of those who think there is no difference but style between the parties, and shown those who dared to hope that there was a difference that they were chumps to believe. His collusion with the health care industry, Wall Street, and other malefactors of great wealth show him to not be a progressive Democrat, but a Rockefeller Republican in drag.

  5. Bobo says:

    This is pretty good. The argument is persuasive. I think it is accurate up to the conclusion that Obama would still be in trouble if the economy was not the disaster that it is.

    My take is that Obama made a conscious decision to chart this course through consultation with certain advisors. In the end, having principles was equated to siding with the hippies, and scorned. It was more expedient politically from the inside to go the way they did. The fear was that an attack from the inside (military/intelligence complex) would lend credence to the inevitable attack from the right. The same logic led to handing the economy over to wall street and the bankers instead of doing the right thing for America and suffering families.

    Good luck, Chicago!

  6. Bobo says:

    P.S. Sorry for hitting the the post button before completing my post.

    I wanted to add that the bet appears to have been that the fallout from screwing the left was something they could manage and handle, or ignore. And it probably would have been had the economy not been so dreadfully bad. I don’t think it occurred to them that giving up principles articulated so beautifully and effectively during the campaign would matter beyond pissing off the left, the implication being principles don’t matter.

    But Peter is right that this was a HUGE miscalculation, and one the destroyed the core of the logic behind Obama’s presidency, on top of breaking the hearts of many of his most loyal supporters. He failed his supporters, they did not fail him. He told them one thing during the campaign, and then proceeded to do the opposite as president, while offering water-downed programs that are certainly way, way better than what we would have with republicans, but that fall short of the promise.

    It probably would have worked in better economic times. Will Obama now court the left after the mid-terms? Does he stand a chance at a second terms if he doesn’t abandon this self-defeating course?

  7. Notorious P.A.T. says:

    “He can sustain relentless attacks from the right – it’s what everyone expects ”

    Peter, one thing I would really like to know: if Obama was so sure the right was going to go after him with all guns blazing, then why in the world did he bend over backward so much to try and please them? Does he agree with their positions, as I suspect more and more, or does he care more about process than results, or what?

    “Good luck, Chicago!” Haha )

    • Bobo says:

      This is an excellent perspective from which to evaluate obama because it provides so many interesting possibilities.

      I think part of Obama really wants to be inclusive on principle because over the long haul that is the best strategy for building acceptance of a new direction and establishing legitimacy, at least under this theory. It is very Christian, too. Turn the other cheek and treat others the way you would want to be treated. That can result in building support and trust, but only if he delivers in the end and stands firm on principle when the repubs slap his open hand away. Otherwise, he looks weak and the successes are ambiguous.

      The more cynical explanation is that, as president, he is just another politician with no real principles beyond what is expedient. His chief of staff would appear to fit that bill.

      Then there is the Colin Powell “good Negro” model form way back in the first bush admin. Powell has said he felt the need as the first blcak man to hold chairmanship of JCS to establish his loyalty beyond any doubt (and even when it meant compromising principles) to ensure future opportunities for blacks and other minorities. Maybe Obama feels he has to be a purely a mainstream establishment status quo maintaining prez. in order to establish equal footing in the public’s mind for black candidates in the future. Maybe he feels he has to play it real safe in order to establish a successful precedent. If he’s called a socialist when advancing republican policy, what would he be called if he advanced truly progressive legislation?

      This sort of strategic appeasement and compromise on principle backfired on Powell years later when he gave his UN speech supporting the Iraq war. Suddenly, perhaps the most trusted man in Washington was just another hack. Without his moral authority, Powell is nobody. Because he was viewed as a man of principle and conviction, he was a giant, and to many still is. Principle matters. Perhaps especially if you are a black politician.

  8. Glen says:

    Most Democratic voters do not participate in this small handful of blogs. Even these bloggers “getting under the President’s skin” does not explain the President’s loss of support in the polls and the poor showing of the Democrats for the 2010 midterms.

    A much simpler explanation is that the voters are have not seen a break , a significant difference from the policies put forward by Bush vs. the policies put forward by Obama. In fact, where it really counts, the handling of the economic crisis, and the handling of the War On Terror (including the civil liberties issues), these policies are pretty much identical. Throw in the long term unemployment, stagnant economy, and a general sense that Obama, just like Bush, is only looking out for the large banks and corporations, and the voters that showed up in 2008 just don’t see any reason to make an effort in 2010.

    But, blaming the progressives for 2010 losses will play well in the DC bubble, and certainly will be used as an excuse in the DC and on the MSM for Obama to go even more right, and start to impose cuts to Social Security in the name of “fiscal austerity”.

  9. Bernard says:

    oh please. as if Obama gave a rat’s ass about anyone else. voting for Spying on Americans. not fighting the lies of the Death Panels and the Tea Parties. just be quiet and let them pass, was the apparent thinking from the Obama white house.

    and of course the whole DADT issue and that lovely Saddleback Preacher at the inauguration. as if the Left has any influence on him is such a dream. Obama praised Ronald Reagan at this victory speech!!

    so we are to expect Obama to “care” about the Left. lol. that’s a fantasy to begin with.

    Obama never fought for the Health Care Bill, Wall St. regulation. the list is endless.

    Obama doesn’t dare go against the Right wing/Wall St. owners. i wouldn’t expect Obama to after his past actions.

    so, the Left is more powerful than the right in “stressing” Obama. who’d a thunk it????

    well. as ye sow so shall ye reap.

    i just wish the Left had pull. lol. what a fantasy land America is.

  10. dhfsfc says:

    The entire premise of this piece, as well as many of the recent comments by others (“Obama’s just not into Progressives or the working class”) assumes that Obama, as the President, is indeed running the executive branch of our Government, and is effecting policy and leading. There is very little evidence of this.

    Obama is out now, stumping for the November elections, and yet months go by and there is no sign of him articulating his policies to the American public, meeting with Congressional leaders, speaking to the press, or trying to push through any legislation. Obama is a shiny object we’re all supposed to watch while the real action is going on off-stage.

    I’m tired of thinking about a phantom.

  11. Whitesage says:

    The “moral failings” of Obama are much simpler than indicated here. Obama promised, as near as I can tell, two things: change (presumably from Bush’s policies) and bi-partisanship. If he knew all along these things were impossible, why did he promise them?

  12. fuyura says:

    This is a very accurate examination of the failings of the Obama administration. For my own part, I never thought that he was a progressive and/or liberal. What I voted for, what I think a lot of people voted for, and what hasn’t happened, is (forgive the capitals) Accountability and Advocacy. I wanted some accountability for the excesses of the Bush regime, at least. And I wanted someone in Washington who, at least on the basis of his oratory, held the interests of the rest of the country at least as important as those of the elite.

    That was reinforced many-fold by the financial crisis. I wouldn’t have minded anything that could be called a bailout as long as it was explained that it was the only way to handle the crisis, and here are the measures we’re going to _fight for_ to see that the root causes are addressed; and as long as all the executives and board members were shot (a rhetorical flourish; I would have been satisfied with firing them).

    And ever since then, time after time, we get the compromises, followed by presidential rhetoric (to ever-less effect), followed by a celebration that we got this much.

    I know historical analogies are at best limited and at worst useless, but what the administration keeps reminding me of is the Allied High Command in World War I: focused intensely on the next offensive, followed by a celebration of the few hundred yards of advance, followed by the next offensive… all in the expectation that pretty soon would come the long-awaited breakthrough to let the cavalry ride through in triumph.

  13. tonysam says:

    Actually the bloggers’ disappointment and disgust at Obama is more a reflect of THEIR character than it is of Obama’s. Had they (along with Democratic voters) not allowed themselves to be conned by the media in even picking this neoliberal as the Democratic Party’s standardbearer and actually read articles and books like Paul Street’s, the party wouldn’t be in this mess. The facts about Obama’s neoliberal leanings were always there–this man was NEVER a “progressive,” never a liberal, and I would argue he was never even a Democrat.

  14. Spigzone says:

    It’s about character AND policy. But if goes far far deeper than that.

    Sometime in late 2011 to early 2012 Peak Oil rolls over into Declining Oil … every year there will be less oil available to the world economy than the year before. The massive creation of further debt in a desperate attempt to try and keep the fiat currency/debt based financial system from collapse has ABSOLUTELY NO possible chance of suceeding in an enviroment of continually declining oil supplies.

    It is in THAT context what Obama has done and is doing must be viewed. A far bigger collapse is on the way, and it is inevitable. THAT is why Obama has not only continued, but is outdoing Bush in demolishing the rule of law and judicial review, and concentrating almost unlimited power in the office of the President.

    That is also why Obama is complicit in an all out effort to de-legitimize the progressive left, by far the most intelligent, differentiating, sane and literate segment of american society. They are the most dangerous to the interests of the Power Structure. The monied elites don’t want a rational, differentiating and educated citizenry, they want a nation of compliant confused dittohead sheepbots.

    A world with steadily declining oil supplies portent certain expansion of wars, oppression, riots, anarchy, chaos and police states. America, with maximum dependence on and minimal preparation for that reality will experience all of the above with a vengeance.

    That is the true judgement of Obama’s betrayal of the promise of his campaign and any judgement that does not take into account the impending decline of the worlds capacity to produce oil is ignoring the Tyrannasaurus Rex in the room. The hard fact is Obama has totally and knowingly sold out the the country and it’s people. He is not even giving them the CHANCE to rise to the occasion.

    And that is neither rational nor sane.