The left has become disillusioned with President Obama, according to this report by Politico’s Glenn Thrush. This news, which I’ve been looking forward to reading since it became apparent that Obama would be elected, was delivered at the annual meeting of the left-wng Campaign for America’s Future.
Thrush says the activists at the meeting warned that Obama can no longer count on his “progressive” base. The activists took a carrot and stick approach. Ilyse Hogue, MoveOn.org’s campaign director intoned, “We are not apathetic, we are not depressed — we are willing to get out and fight for the people who fight for us,” but added that Obama and his party can “no longer. . .count on us for a solid Democratic vote.”
Thrush also reports that attendance on opening day was “light,” and that the enthusiasm gap the left is experiencing in relation to the right was “palpable.” The foot soldiers may be apathetic or depressed after all.
What’s their beef with Obama? Arianna Huffington finds him too bipartisan:
Bipartisanship is not the way to find (sic) American change. So far bipartisanship has brought us a no-strings-attached bailout. It has brought us the freedom from the burden of an affordable public option [in health care reform]. It has also brought us an ongoing war in Afghanistan, … and every day we see more penguins and dolphins covered in bipartisanship.
Actually, compromise on the public option was not an act of bipartisanship; it was what the Democrats needed to do to keep their own members of Congress on board for health care reform. And Huffington apparently failed to explain how greater partisanship on the part of the Obama administration would have facilitated the legislative enactments she desires, much less how it will accomplish this next year, after the Democratic representation in the Senate declines by at least a few seats.
In any case, Huffington’s unhappiness doesn’t count for much because she made it clear that she still supports Obama.
Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos offered a more pragmatic approach. According to Thrush, Moulitsas “suggested that Democrats, like Republicans — and Obama circa ’08 –stress broader principles and eschew specific policy platforms.” He admitted that when you talk specifics “what you get is irrelevant and scary to the American people. … If we’re talking to people, the less details the better.”
Just so. But the Democrats are governing the country now. Thus, despite their best efforts to hide them in lengthy bills no one has time to read, it’s difficult for the Dems to withhold the scary details of their agenda.
When the best the American left can prescribe is to insist on pushing legislation that can’t be passed (Huffington) or to hide the ball from the American public (Kos), it would seem that the American left is holding a losing hand. Not surprisingly, Obama’s hand is similarly weak right now and this may be an important source of the left’s irritation with him.
If only they could have elected someone principled, like John Edwards.