Losing Liberals

artwork by nataliedee.com

There’s an emerging blog discussion on Obama’s dropping poll numbers in the Democratic Party base and the drop of yet another hippie bashing meme by OFA Director Ray Sandoval.  There’s a lot of people that think that the base has no place to go and will return to the fold, but I’ve noticed the increased number of Democratic Congress members that seem to have Obama fatigue.   You may have read BostonBoomer’s post on Maxine Waters who has been out with members of the black caucus in major cities trying to connect the jobless with jobs.

There’s also evidence that other members are equally disenchanted.  I’m not really sure what that will mean over the next year’s election cycle.  I just know that there’s a willingness now to speak up unlike the conspiracy of silence that plagued elected Democratic officials since early 2008.   I’ve got a few examples to share with you.

Here’s an excellent interview with  MA Representative Jim McGovern. The bolded sentence is my nomination for QOTD.

“We need to get the focus back on jobs,” said McGovern. “Here we are at the end of August, and Congress hasn’t done anything about jobs.”

McGovern voted “no” on the debt ceiling compromise, calling it “a catastrophe” that disagreed with both President Obama and the American people’s stance on revenues.

I didn’t run for Congress to dismantle the New Deal,” said McGovern.

The Massachusetts Rep is a loyal supporter of the president, but feels that the current political climate in the country calls for bolder leadership.

“The president needs to fight back,” he said.

Congressman Pete DeFazio says that Obama “lacks the will to fight” and that  may cost him Oregon. DeFazio says that his boldest defense of the President recently sums up to it could have been worse.  That’s hardly a resounding endorsement of bold leadership.

In his Eugene office Wednesday, Defazio accused the President of lacking the will to fight for the promises he made to get elected.

“Fight? I don’t think it’s a word in his vocabulary,” said the Springfield Democrat, who specifically cited Obama’s lack of follow-through in promises to restore Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

“He repeatedly said that. Then the Republicans telegraphed to him they were going to use a fake crisis over the debt limit in order to muscle some major spending reductions or other things on to him. And that was in December. And what happens? Suddenly he flip flops and concedes everything to the Republicans.”

Asked whether he thought the President had a shot at re-election, Defazio was skeptical.

“At this point it pretty much depends on how far out there the Republican nominee is. You know with a respectable–someone who is a little bit toward the middle of the road–Republican nominee, he’s going to have a very tough time getting re-elected,” said DeFazio.

He’s also not convinced the President will do well in Oregon.

“I believe Oregon is very much in play. I mean we are one of the harder hit states in the union, particularly my part of the state. I’ve just done six town hall meetings, have seven to go but people are shaking their heads and saying ‘I don’t know if I’d vote for him again.’” Defazio said.

Asked if he was surprised, the congressman shrugged.

“Not at all,” DeFazio said. “One guy asked me, ‘Give me 25 words what he’s about and what he’s done for me.’ I’m like, ‘It could have been worse.’”

So, those folks that were gaga over “No Drama Obama”  have suddenly found that translates into “No Guts and No Glory”.  Chuck Hobbs–a Florida Trial lawyer and writer for Politics365–has some interesting analysis on the thesis that President Obama is losing support from progressives.

Curiously, the president’s focus soon shifted from job creation to passing a sweeping health reform measure. What passed, known as the Affordable Care Act, was viewed by many progressives as a shell of the long desired single payer system in that the current act does more to provide incentives to existing insurance companies than containing costs or providing greater benefits to Americans.

Still, if most progressives are willing to concede that some form of universal care is better than none, few are as accommodating for other perceived missteps by the Obama administration. Chief among these include the president’s reticence to advocate government sponsored economic stimulation with respect to jobs—a modern day “New Deal” similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s public works programs. Others were concerned with the president’s escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan and willingness to attack Libya despite the fact that Libya’s civil war did not directly implicate any U.S. interests. Other progressives lament the fact that the president has taken a seemingly nuanced approach on the issue of gay marriage.

These concerns pale in comparison to progressives fevered pitch from the recent debt ceiling debate, one in which Tea Party conservatives’ unwillingness to compromise drove the president closer to the ideological right with respect to tax cuts.

The fact that no new revenue sources were created particularly vexed perennial third party challenger Ralph Nader, who now calls for a primary challenger to Obama in 2012.  Nader recently stated that he “would guess that the chances of there being a challenge to Obama in the primary are almost 100 percent.”

Nader also averred “when (Obama) surrendered the continuation of tax cuts for the rich last December, the least he could have gotten was the debt ceiling increased. He didn’t even do that. So he set himself up for this hostage situation by the Republicans and it’s his own fault. And the country and the workers are paying the price.”

Obama’s advisers are trying to position the President as the calm voice in Washington that seeks compromise and stays above the fray.  He’s got some room with that posture while the Republican primary contenders eat each other alive for the position of who can pander most successfully to the crazy right. It seems clear to me that Obama will never place himself in the position of pandering to the left or center left.  His strategy is appears to follow DeFazio’s characterization. Hey Vote for me! It could’ve been worse.

My thought is that line of reasoning will not hold water as the economy continues to crumble, joblessness remains high–especially among minorities and young people who are a core constituency of the President, and Republicans solidify behind a candidate.  Will Democratic voters sit this election out now that it’s unlikely to be viewed as historic?  Let me quote one more Democratic Congressman and examine a recent Obama policy morph.  This is from Luis Guitterez on Obama’s lost pledge to Latinos.

To understand why I chose to participate with others in an act of peaceful civil disobedience over President Obama’s record-setting pace of immigrant deportations, you need to go back to 12 July 2008. In San Diego, then Senator – and Democratic candidate for president – Barack Obama’s spoke to the annual national conference of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organisation. He told the mostly Latino audience:

When communities are terrorised by ICE immigration raids, when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel, when all that is happening, the system just isn’t working and we need to change it.

He received thunderous applause and went on to promise to address immigration reform to protect immigrants from deportation in his first year in office, and pledged he would not walk away even if it was politically difficult to keep moving forward. He won the election with an overwhelming and unprecedented 67% of the Latino vote – which had expanded by 2 million new voters since 2004 – and won key states like Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada (and, therefore, the White House) on the strength of the Latino vote. Indeed, the slogan adopted by his campaign, “Yes We Can”, is an adaptation of the iconic chant of the Mexican American farm labor movement of the 1960s, “Si Se Puede,” led by César Chávez.

Flash forward to now and Barack Obama‘s record on immigration as president does not match the rhetoric or the huge expectations he created in 2008. A million people have been deported by President Obama – approximately, 1,100 per day; most of them Latinos – far more than his predecessor George W Bush or any American president. Without being prodded by Congress, he expanded the use of the military at the border with Mexico, mandated the use of an electronic employment eligibility system for all firms doing business with the government and, most controversially, expanded a programme misnamed “secure communities” that enlists state and local law enforcement in federal immigration matters. Such programmes erode trust between immigrants and their local police because reporting a crime or domestic abuse could lead to deportation (which has, indeed, happened). When the governors of New York, Massachusetts and Obama’s own State of Illinois – solidly Democratic Obama territory – tried to withdraw from the program, the president told them participation by their states, counties and cities is mandatory.

The response to this has been interesting.  US Today has labelled the Obama deportation policy as “Smart Politics”.

President Obama’s new policy on deporting illegal immigrants won’t just help those immigrants without criminal records. It could help Obama as well.

The policy, announced by the Department of Homeland Security Thursday, places priority on deporting criminal aliens and other priority cases. Those who arrived in the United States as children, received college educations or served in the military will be less likely to get deported.

The decision is sure to be reviewed by Congress. In particular, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, argues the administration is overstepping its authority by picking and choosing among those who entered the country illegally.

But one thing seems clear: The move will help Obama among Hispanics, many of whom have long argued that he was being unnecessarily tough on deportation policy.

This is clearly another example of a White House policy that triangulates rather than shows any bold vision. This does appear to be a White House that plays 11th dimensional chess with itself and then loses.  So, my question of the day is how many folks will be willing to show up and vote for the President based on “it could’ve been worse”?

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24 Comments on “Losing Liberals”

  1. bluelady says:

    I’m making a new bumper sticker- something along the lines of “Don’t hold your nose and vote for him”,needs a few more words- any suggestions?
    It’s going to come down to the the lesser of 2 evils by election time unless someone steps up to primary him. Please, isn’t there anyone who has the guts to do it? Anyone?

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Interesting, bad as he is what is the alternative to Obama?

    Is the country really in the mood to elect one of the Right Wing nutjobs who can’t seem to fashion an intelligent statement amongst themselves? People who don’t believe in evolution, education, or climate change? People who are all about deregulation no matter the cost to the public? People willing to carve even more of the social safety nets that have been in place for decades just to square the deficit?

    I cannot even begin to envision a nation under the dominance of Perry, Palin, Bachmann, or Mitt. It merely produces a nightmare followed by an Excedrin headache.

    It’s the worst of times.

  3. foxyladi14 says:

    my hero..Happy 65th Big Dawg! :)

  4. dakinikat says:

    I just found this and wanted to add it: Obama’s Base Problem

    There’s been plenty of bad news for Barack Obama this month in the form of his approval numbers, but our polling finds that his problems go deeper than that. Democratic enthusiasm about voting in next year’s election has hit a record low this month.

    Only 48% of Democrats on our most recent national survey said they were ‘very excited’ about voting in 2012. On the survey before that the figure was 49%. Those last two polls are the only times all year the ‘very excited’ number has dipped below 50%.

    In 13 polls before August the average level of Democrats ‘very excited’ about voting next year had averaged 57%. It had been as high as 65% and only twice had the number even dipped below 55%.

    It had seemed earlier in the year like Democrats had overcome the ‘enthusiasm gap’ that caused so much of their trouble in last year’s elections. But now 54% of Republicans say they’re ‘very excited’ about casting their ballots next year, indicating that the problem may be back.

    The debt deal really does appear to have demoralized the base, and the weird thing about it is that this is one issue where if Obama had done what folks on the left wanted him to do, he also would have had the support of independents. The deal has proven to be a complete flop in swing states where we’ve polled it like Colorado, North Carolina, and Ohio. And in every single one of those states a majority of voters overall, as well as a majority of independents, think new taxes are going to be needed to solve the deficit problem.

    • madamab says:

      The debt deal really does appear to have demoralized the base, and the weird thing about it is that this is one issue where if Obama had done what folks on the left wanted him to do, he also would have had the support of independents.

      Yes, that is weird…but it’s not the “one issue.” Most people want out of Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. Most people want the government to focus on jobs, not deficit-cutting. Most people favor legalized same-sex marriage, the overturn of DOMA and DADT, and reproductive choice for women.

      One possible conclusion is that Obama is doing the absolute least possible work to get himself re-elected, and is counting on the Repubs to nominate a moron like Goodhair. (I mean, a campaign tour followed by a two-week vacation?! After that total flop of a debt ceiling deal?) He’s also bought and paid for by corporate interests, so of course he is doing what they tell him.

  5. joanelle says:

    You said: When communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids, when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel, when all that is happening, the system just isn’t working and we need to change it…Flash forward to now and Barack Obama‘s record on immigration as president does not match the rhetoric or the huge expectations he created in 2008

    That’s what happens when a starry eyed kid is writing your speeches and you have no input or care what is really being said.

    • northwestrain says:

      0bama just reacts — and often his reactions are too late. It’s like he’s two steps behind.

  6. jawbone says:

    Well, this should make the Dem base enthusiastic….for a different Dem presidential candidate. Right now, we have Obama as our “condidate.”

    Jon Walker at FDL writes about Obama saying in Alpha, Illinois, on Wednesday that he will push the Committee of the Twelve Caesars for “modifications” to SocSec and Medicare — to bring down costs. No details, as usual from this stealth candidiate.

    From the WH transcripts:

    When folks [fingernails on blackboard, hearing that word from this president] tell you that we’ve got a choice between jobs now or dealing with our debt crisis, they’re wrong. They’re wrong. We can’t afford to just do one or the other. We’ve got to do both. And the way to do it is to make some — reform the tax code, close loopholes, make some modest modifications in programs like Medicare and Social Security so they’re there for the next generation, stabilize those systems. And you could actually save so much money that you could actually pay for some of the things. (My emphasis)

    Ah, yes, Obama’s own Modest Proposal. When Jonathan Swift wrote his, he proposed the Irish eat their children in order to survive. Obama should do the same, but instead have Americans eat their elderly. Time for Soylent Green, “folks.” For jobs, new protein-based food product, and doing away with our problem of caring and paying for the needs of our seniors….

    C’mon, Barry, man up. Face it that your proposed changes to SocSec and M/M will cause unnecessary deaths and much misery. At least let these deaths be put to good use for the protein requirements of oir increasingly large numbers of poor and unemployed.

    Deliver legislation to Congress requiring Soylent Green manufacturing centers and Obama Self-Selection Intake Centers (OSSIC or just SSIC –pronounced “sick”– if Obama doesn’t want his name on his greatest legacy) where seniors –or anyone, but those under 18 will be required to supply signed parental permission slips– can make that last great sacrifice for their compatriots and lay down their lives…for food, some organ harvesting, deficit payments, and, also, a much lower carbon footprint.. Finally, a way for the elderly –and the unwanted, the unemployed, anyone so inclined– to truly contribute to the betterment of the nation and the world!

    Get SSIC! Vote for Obama! Go Green–Soylent Green!

    *Sorry if this is a repeat.

    • northwestrain says:

      You’ve got the bumper sticker!
      Get SSIC! Vote for Obama! Go Green–Soylent Green!

      0bama is determined to “fix” SS and Medicare — this is what he’s been paid to do.

      He’s been successful in the goals for those who paid his way. But 0bama has let down the voters who put him in office.

      Since I didn’t vote for him — he hasn’t disappointed me — he is on course to do what many of us realists expected from him.

      He will fight like a caged animal to protect himself and his own interests. Everything else and everyone else he shuts off from his awareness. But his “fight” will be underhanded and dirty with the nastiness done by others — at least this has been his method in the past.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think if Obama had his way, we baby boomers would be put in concentration camps and gassed. Or maybe they have more efficient methods now?

  7. WomanVoter says:

    The one that bothers me the most is Fareed Zakaria with his “Grow UP Liberals”! Yup, that coming from a guy that til this very day insists that Obama passed Universal Health Care, rather than an insurance SKY ROCKING PREMIUM SCHEME, with a Give Away to his Greedo base.

  8. Carolyn Kay says:

    >>it could have been worse

    He’s herpes, but at least he’s not AIDS! (Thanks to my friend Brent Budowsky for that one.)

    Carolyn Kay
    MakeThemAccountable.com

  9. dakinikat says:

    Louisiana official gets bonus for helping to cut budget

    While 54,000 rank-and-file state workers are going without a raise for the second consecutive year, the news is not nearly as bad for one of the key architects of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive budget.

    Assistant Commissioner of Administration Ray Stockstill, who heads the state Office of Planning and Budget, received a $9,000 “lump sum temporary pay adjustment” last year on top of his $180,000 annual salary.

    Division spokesman Michael DiResto said the one-time bonus was authorized by Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater and was justified because of Stockstill’s decades of experience in state budget matters was needed as the administration tried to patch a $1.6 billion shortfall in this year’s budget.

    “Ray provided very important service to help make sure we produced a budget that protected critical services in areas like education and health care,” DiResto said.

    Besides eliminating the near-automatic pay raises for state employees — a top priority for House conservatives — the executive budget submitted by Jindal also asked most state workers to direct an extra 3 percent of their pay toward retirement. But the retirement change was scrapped after House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, decided that it constituted a tax increase and would need a two-thirds vote to clear the House.