The Writing on the Wall is Left Handed

Image Courtesy of Suzanna's Sketchbook

A week ago I chose to mark my return to this blog by taking exception to a trend that seemed to be emanating from leading voices in the Progressive movement. In this case I was referring to Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher calling out the President for his antagonistic comments directed at his base during a Connecticut fundraiser. I have to admit now that in that post I was just getting my feet wet again and had not paid extremely close attention to all of the issues leading up to this moment. Issues that taken in full context explain the resentment and dissatisfaction.

Today another leading Progressive voice and one I also greatly respect and have paid close attention to going back to my early days of blogging, Peter Daou (formerly of The Daou Report), did the hard work in laying out the case for this Liberal revolt against the President.

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. (Jane, who has been a friend for years, has become an increasingly controversial figure and I won’t use this post to litigate the claims for or against her.)

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

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 (many of whom I’ve worked with in past campaigns) 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.

How can one argue with that?

Daou goes on to enumerate the major transgressions that have distanced Obama from those that put him in power and at the top of the list is the targeted killing of Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen believed to have had ties to al-Qaeda. You must read his piece in it’s entirety to get the full picture but suffice to say it is clear and disturbing.

The question this left me thinking is can Obama possibly redeem himself? Even if he were to turn around tomorrow and with the stroke of a pen by Executive Order take away his own power to carry out these acts (which would certainly be a good start) would it be enough to salvage his image with the Left?

Only time will tell but maybe a good beating in November – which appears likely – along with the exit of his heavy, Rahm Emanuel, might offer him the opportunity to begin the process of reconciliation.

One can only hope.

7 Responses to “The Writing on the Wall is Left Handed”

  1. Pug says:

    Obama won’t take a beating in November because he hasn’t been “progressive” enough. He is going to take a beating because he has been too “socialist”. The far right is coming to take their country back and if you don’t mind…well, OK. Any satisfaction that poor, smug little liberals like Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher take in Obama getting his comeuppance will be short lived.

    When the craziness starts, and it will, Rahm Emmanuel is going to seem like a great guy and killing an overseas terrorist, even if he is a U.S. citizen, won’t seem all that important. And you know what? While I see the point, I couldn’t care less if they fire a rocket up al-Aulaqi’s ass.

  2. Pug – Help me understand how Obama has been too socialist.

  3. Kyle E. Moore says:

    I can argue with that. I can argue with that easily. In fact, you have audio of me arguing that before the fact.

    I called all of this, and the funny thing is that eight years from now when we are going through the second coming of the W. years because we have a shiny new Republican president with a Republican congress, the liberal blogosphere will be caught in a nearly euphoric tizzy of animosity and four to eight years after the fact everyone will lament about how great we had it under Obama just like we all did to Clinton. But for now, everyone has to prove how contrarian they can be, bonus points for doing it in the middle of an election season. And hey, you know it’s a win win for the I love me so fucking much professional left because instead of taking any kind of responsibility, after the bloodbath the lib blogosphere will just sit back and smugly say “I told you so” without having put any fucking skin in the game.

    And when I mean skin in the game, I mean, these people don’t have constituents to answer to. Jane Hamsher doesn’t have to go to townhalls and get called a nazi, Peter Daou doesn’t have to answer to a third of his country saying he’s a communist evil muslim illegal alien. The one thing all these people you respect have in common is that the more poo they fling at the president, the more they endear themselves to all the libs who are pissed off that even though they got the pony, they didn’t get the blow job and the cotton candy as well.

    I called this shit, you know I did.

    The reason why politicians punch hippies is because they can’t be appeased. They can’t be counted on as allies and since so much of the rest of the country hates them anyway, they become more useful as a foil than a fair weather friend.

    Me, I’m fucking done with the liberal blogosphere.

    • Sorry but I think you are wrong. In 2008 Obama make it clear that he would not carry forward the whole Unitary Executive philosophy created and reinforced by his predecessor. Let me point you to a couple points of many Obama’s made to the Boston Globe when asked about these issues specifically.

      5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

      No. I reject the Bush Administration’s claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.

      8. Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified?

      It is illegal and unwise for the President to disregard international human rights treaties that have been ratified by the United States Senate, including and especially the Geneva Conventions. The Commander-in-Chief power does not allow the President to defy those treaties.

      Now he was not asked about whether the President could assassinate a U.S. citizen abroad without impunity but I think you get the picture. This is not about “dirty hippies” crying about a lack of support for co-ops Kyle, this is a clear question of whether the President has continued practices he claimed were wrong.

  4. Kyle E. Moore says:

    Cool, we’ll just go ahead and get President Palin and Speaker Boehner and Sen. Maj Leader Mitch McConnell on that for ya.

  5. Or we could get President Obama on it. Isn’t that the point?

  6. By the way, my agreement with the concerns of these people does not equate to me being unmotivated to vote for Democrats. I will pull the lever as I always do and I am certain that anyone with a right mind will do the same.


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