President Obama

'Liberals Are Incapable of Feeling Satisfied'

Jonathan Chait wrote a brilliant editorial for the New York magazine about liberal dissatisfaction with the president. Other than the headline, it's impossible to pull a single quote of from the piece (but I'll try), so you'll have to take a few minutes and read it for yourself -- especially if you're one of the dissatisfied liberals.

He details the "liberal failures" of previous Democratic presidents who are currently enjoying a popular resurgence contrasted with progressive anger about the Obama presidency. During the historical recap sections, my mantra about "name a president with whom you were 100 percent satisfied" kept springing to mind.

Of the postwar presidents, only Johnson exceeds Obama’s domestic record, and Johnson’s successes must be measured against a crushing defeat in Vietnam. Obama, by contrast, has enjoyed a string of foreign-policy successes—expanding targeted strikes against Al Qaeda (including one that killed Osama bin Laden), ending the war in Iraq, and helping to orchestrate an apparently successful international campaign to rescue Libyan dissidents and then topple a brutal kleptocratic regime. So, if Obama is the most successful liberal president since Roosevelt, that would make him a pretty great president, right?

Chait's broader point is that liberals are too self-loathing and idealistic to accept success when it's staring them in the face.

Chait missed two bits of analysis.

First, many liberals weren't with the Obama campaign in the first place. We may have all voted for him in November, 2008, but the primary left a lot of liberals pissed off with a lingering ambivalence about the Obama campaign. In fact, most A-list liberals were John Edwards supporters until he dropped out, then they divided into Hillary and Obama cliques. From there, the fisticuffs began (read Eric Boehlert's "Bloggers on the Bus" for more).

Second, there are Glenn Greenwald types with large audiences who have taken a "we hate the system and Obama is part of the system, so crush him, too" approach. Glenn believes it's his place to hold leadership accountable for their mistakes and he's willing to undermine efforts to move the country leftwards in the process (the president is, in fact, moving policy-making to the left, it's just slow-going after 30 years of Reaganomics). So he writes about what he perceives to be continuations of Bush policies by the Obama White House, and he doesn't care much if it generates increased dissatisfaction with the president among his readers -- and he doesn't care if they stay home on election day and a Republican wins. Actually, I'm not sure if he cares about a progressive movement or shoving the discourse leftward -- it's all collateral damage in his slash-and-burn approach. Sadly, too many of his readers don't understand the idea of smart accountability: making a strong case for our values and ideas without undermining a left-friendly White House.

Ultimately, I'm disillusioned with too many progressives who I believed were smart and understood objective reality. We used to rip into Karl Rove for talking about his "non-reality based empire." But too many of us are so bent out of shape that we're losing sight of how this country functions -- while some of us are too willing to compromise our values to get what we want. I've heard some liberals suggest the president should just act as a unitary executive -- an idea that was popular in Dick Cheney's circle during the Bush years. We don't seem to get history. 30 years of Reagan-style politics. Republicans have ruled the discourse, even when Democrats controlled the White House or Congress, they moved to the right in order to keep up (see also President Clinton). We don't seem to get the idea that if we turn our backs on the most liberal president since FDR, we will get more moderate presidents and Republican presidents.

I really don't know what's next, but judging by my Twitter feed and conversations I've had with colleagues, it sounds like the pragmatic left is gaining momentum. Here's to hoping it continues...

  • Amazing essay. Thank you!

  • President Obama has accomplished more for the left than all the screeching, bitching, whining, leftier then thou emoprogs in three years then they have last in the last 40. These lefty puritans are perennial failures who can only successfully shoot themselves in the foot.

  • mrbrink

    “Lincoln Sells Out Slaves”

    One of my favorites.

    Just thought it appropriate.

  • Sabreen60

    Why is so hard to say PRESIDENT Obama? I’ve noticed that those on the right and left often say “Obama” – sometimes “Mr. Obama”. It’s as though the word “President’ gets stuck in their craw.

    I’d like to know who are the saboteurs and provocateurs on the left. It seems that a lot of screeching from the so-call Professional Left are former Republicans.

  • sandinbrick

    Gonna put my two cents here, Obama came to be President under different circumstances, that is, the Bush era, most liberal-progressives have no one to bash except President Obama. He’s damned if he does, remember he is the President of the entire United States. We Liberals don’t own him. I will work to re-elect him, just look at the losers, GOP Candidates, complain, complain. Tired of it.

    • missliberties

      Also plus, when he was campaigning two years before the Sept 08 crash. That sort of drastically changed the equation and the scope of possibilities because the entire economic system was totally frozen and we were losing almost a million jobs a month. You know just little things like that that liberals forget.

    • Scopedog

      “…just look at the losers, GOP candidates…”

      Yup. Seriously, if people cannot see the differences between the President and this….crop of GOP candidates….I dunno.

      I mean, Michael Moore pines for Huntsman, Huffington says that she plans to vote GOP next year, and Ron Paul gets knobjobs from some on the Left….and then there’s the belief among some that if the GOP get into office next year, then the country is truly fucked and everything will fall apart and out of the flames of the Revolution will rise a new utopia.


      Nope, I’ve had it with the Hard Left (or Far Left). They were wrong in 2000, and in 2010….hell, since 1968. And yet, they still have not bothered to learn their fucking lesson.

  • missliberties


    More More More!

    The perpetually disillusioned left. Why should the rest of us have to suffer because of their constant unrelenting whining!

    • MarshallLucky

      You know, whining about someone else’s whining doesn’t exactly prove anything. Maybe if both sides of the left stopped trying to win a pissing contest and actually conceded something we’d get somewhere. But as it is? Chait et al fires a salvo, Greenwald et al fires back, their respective peanut galleries cheer and howl and caricature the other side and it starts all over again.

      This macho posturing has been going on for four fucking years now and neither side has gotten anywhere. The first step to constructive solutions is to stop demonizing each other and acknowledge that both sides (yes, BOTH SIDES) have legitimate points to bring to the table. Obama has made progress on many liberal issues and he’s the best choice we have in our profoundly fucked up political climate. Scorched earth ideology is not the strategy of the moment and it won’t change public opinion. At the same time, there are many areas were Obama deserves and requires strong criticism from the left, such as his civil liberties policies. It’s depressing to watch progressives engaging in gung-ho jingoistic idiocy just because our guy is in charge. Criticism without teeth is worthless.

      I’ve been strongly critical of Obama for the last four years. I’ve used savage rhetoric against people I perceived as blind partisan loyalists. But you know what? That’s gotten me nowhere. Just like the choir-preaching here is getting us nowhere. It’s time for a progressive detente.

      Is that possible? Can we start having that conversation?

      • You’ve been critical of the President since 2007? I mean he hasn’t been President for four years yet you know that right.

      • missliberties

        I don’t have a lot of sympathy for your position. The hard left is smugly unpleaseable.

        Here is my suggestion. If you want change push for it constructively. Offer some sunshine. Say what we CAN accomplish within our political frame work. Let Democrats know that you are behind them one hundred percent when they move towards the goal of progress.

        Help democrats get a spine by supporting them instead of constantly nagging, whining and bashing them abut how bad things are.

        I see a lot of crap thrown at this President as destructive, untruthful and out of context.

        The whining about Gitmo for example. The President signed an executive order to close Gitmo. Got that. The Congress refused to fund the move. So bashing the President because he didn’t keep his campaign promise is pure unadulterated ignorance.

        Here is your scorched earth ideology in action. How many folks were purged from dkos for having the audacity to support the President? Myself included. By offering up constructive reality based suggestions, ‘we’ were told we were silencing dissent. Here’s is what I have to say to that. Fuck that. It’s pure projection.

        Why am I so passionate about this? Because liberals towing the purity line brought us Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. They create mass cyncism, and they are smuggly unpleasable.

        There is too much at stake to put up with that bullshit again.

        • Scopedog

          What you said.

          I do not have any problems with honest, constructive criticism of the President. That’s fine, and there’s certainly some that can be leveled at him.

          What I cannot stand–and I’m absolutely pissed off at–is the criticism (or rather, stupid bitching) that is destructive and FALSE. The Gitmo imbroglio, the whining about the Public Option, the bullshit about Libya, the “he’s just as bad as Bush” meme….I mean, come on! A careful reading of the facts would put this to bed, but nooooo. Some folks cannot seem to do that.

          What also bothers me even more is when Right-wing crap is regurgitated by the FL. Just recently I read–or tried to read–a screed written by someone from the Left who repeated the meme that the President was a CIA creation and also hadn’t done anything. Yep, way to repeat the Right’s talking points and do their job for them.

          It is a scorched-earth policy, and it has cost us dearly. It needs to stop.

          • missliberties

            Yes. Thank You Scopedog. I enjoy interacting with you.

            I am thinking we really need to start making a concerted effort to disabuse this misinformation that is coming from the left by going on a mass campaign to inform liberal radio talk show hosts about their false assumptions.

            That CIA bs that you were reading about is some Iranian conspiracy propaganda, that apparently Glenn Greenwald is spreading around. It is blatant conspiracy theory and radically anti-semitic.

      • Ditto what missliberties said on the sympathies.

        The problem with “your side” in a nutshell: You guys seem to think (probably because you believe in propagandist, self-aggrandizing, self-enriching “leaders”) that holding the president accountable means burning him at the stake.

        When your side starts behaving in a rational, more pragmatic manner, then we can have that conversation.

        Adding……Did you even read Chait’s piece?

        • ranger11

          Probably not. History is hard.

      • Chris Andersen

        I’d love to have that conversation. I’ve tried to on many occasions. Each time it seems to end with “unless you agree with me that Obama is a sell out then you are a robot.”

        You are frustrated. I am frustrated. I acknowledge that you are frustrated. I also acknowledge that your frustration is not entirely unfounded.

        Can you do the same?

      • villemar

        It took a while for the nascent Pragmantic Progressive movement to come into existence after the Professional Obama Haters (Hamsher, Greenbeck, Sirota et al.) made it clear that *just like the Republicans* they would not accept the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. Sirota called Obama’s presidency a complete failure THREE DAYS before he was inaugurated (at least the right wing waited till hours after his inauguration was over before they initiated their jihad). Greenwald and Hamsher began their jihad in August ’08 when then Senator Obama voted for FISA continuation and they started their “Unberievable Troof” coalition or whateverthefuck it was called. So they were rejectionist from Day One (actually Day Negative Three for Sirota and Day Negative One Hundred for Hamsher & Greengalt).

        So the onslaught against drooling, retarded, brainwashed, lemminglike “dumbest motherfuckers in the world” Obamabots began. Teresa and I come from Salon, a once-great site that, under unreconstructed PUMA and Master Concern Troll Joan Walsh, let the Cato Institute’s own Glenn Greenwald run amok and encourage his acolytes to literally drive off anyone who didn’t hate Obama with the white-hot passion of elevendy kajillion suns. We’ve seen longtime, articulate, smart as fuck veterans who dared to support the President in any capacity bullied right off the site. We finally left after the last rational adult was hounded away and it morphed fully into FDL2.

        But it didn’t happen right away. Did you really think that we were going to sit by and watch a small handful of professional blogger zealots claim the entire left of the political spectrum with their own personal idelogical jihad, and out and out lie about this President’s record and present that as gospel truth? After being bombarded for four years by the right, 24/7, 7 days a week, with how Obama is an Illegal Kenyan Muslim Communofascist, Islamo-ACORN Black Panther Weather Underground Antichrist that eats babies; did you think that we’d just immediately gleefully embrace the reductio ad absurdum premise that Obama = Bush = Hitler = Vlad the Impaler = Caligula = Chthulhu, just because Glenn fucking Greenwald says so?

        I mean, what the fuck?

        So, I’m sorry if you think there’s an equivalency there between our behavior and the Firebaggers. The Purity Left needs to read some Dale Carnegie and learn how to interact with people without screaming at the top of their lungs & spewing venom and bile before we start coming to consensus.

        • well fucking said, Villemar!

          Adding…..”Greengalt” –bwhahahaha..

        • Sabreen60

          You got my vote !!!

        • ranger11

          A lot of truth contained here. I was actually shocked when this happened so quickly. I was like; he’s not even president and already he’s a disappointment? These people are just so dispiriting. Came to the conclusion that it’s like a reflex to them. Democrat becomes president and start bitching! The opposition reflex.

          • Scopedog

            The term “wet blanket” comes to mind….

        • Scopedog

          (Stands up and applauds)

        • missliberties

          Some nice descriptors in there villemar. 🙂

        • ((((((APPLAUSE!!!!!))))))

          I want to print this comment out and FRAME IT….

  • Excellent post, and a worthy companion to Chait’s piece. Liberal disappointment is like Weimar cash: valueless by virtue of its abundance.

  • dildenusa

    So many on the left of the political spectrum have felt victimized by scum bags like Rove, Atwater, Bush, Limbaugh, etc., for so many years. Myself included. Now that the politics of the nation are moving leftward (just look at the backlash of the tea party republics) people who call themselves liberal or progressive are having a hissy fit. Why? Because all that Rove and Bush bashing worked, now liberals and progressives don’t have anyone to bash over the head anymore so they bash President Obama. What do independent voters think of that? They are appalled by it.

    Even though I consider myself to be liberal and progressive I have been a registered non-party voter for over 40 years. And I have voted for republicans in the past. But never for president or congressional elections. Independent voters who voted for Obama in 2008 look at this Obama bashing by many on the left as nothing but cry babies. The tea party republics are the real cry babies here and that is what we need to hammer home to independent voters.

  • Robert Scalzi

    It is a continuation of the Nader Tater BS … those morons gave us Bush and now seem to want to destroy teh work that has been done and give back all the ground we have gained over the last 3 years. Fuck em All.

  • Glenn Galt is an idiot, and so are his sycophantic followers. Ever spend any time reading those comment threads of his? Hahaha, I’ve seen many truthers, birthers, end of timers, there was a time when his cultists thought that the US Government gave him dengue fever, I mean it is crazy in the place. It is why I can’t believe anyone takes him seriously. It’s like an Art Bell playground in there, the only people I haven’t seen yet are the “I was abducted by Aliens folks”. In that anyone takes him seriously is shocking to me, given the Coast to Coast flavor of everything he writes.

    • Scopedog

      And you know what’s sad? I really do not believe that Greenwald is an idiot. I really believe that he is an intelligent person, but….he wastes that intelligence on the current verbal jihad he’s waging against the current President (that he still feels that Obama is–or worse than–Bush is, well…disturbing). He also puts himself on waaaayyyy too high a pedestal and believes that he’s the only one seeing the truth and the rest of us are, pardon my language, a bunch of fucking morons.

      I do agree about the comments, though….my God, I thought that kind of disconnect from reality existed only on the Right. Sad to say, looks like I was wrong…

      • I think Greenwald is reasonably smart (not brilliant, but fairly bright), but I also think he’s a terrible lawyer. The kind of transparent spin he engages in daily would never fly in a real court with even minimally competent attorneys on the other side.

      • It isn’t that Glenn is an idiot, it is that Glenn’s style attracts a certain kind of person. The person he attracts is someone whose worldview is fueled in part by conspiracies. Art Bell’s audience was an audience that was much the same.

        I used to travel a good deal at night across Washington-Idaho-W. Montana, and listen to Bell in fascination at the people who called his program. He would deliberately build his programs around their paranoia. Anyone with half a clue could hear that, and Bell made his career, and money, on that.

        I believe Greenwald is doing that, building an audience he can regularly rely upon to buy his books and read his columns, that is the name of the game of course. However, in that he attracts the Art Bell types, should relegate his opinions/treatise style rantings, to only representing the fringe.

        • missliberties

          Yeah and one of GG’s worshippers is on my radio in the morning and subs sometimes for Tom Hartman. … David Sirota.

          Glenn is influencing people to his point of view, and then they try to poison my ears with their garbage.

    • JMAshby

      I love this comment.

    • missliberties

      Occupy Glenn Greenwald! Mic Check!

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Is it that liberals are incapable of feeling satisfied, or is it just that they get off on feeling dissatisfied, aggrieved, betrayed, “taken for granted,” etc.?

    So much of the far left’s behavior toward this president reminds me of my mother. I swear, it does. Whether it’s constantly feeling unappreciated and “taken for granted;” taking every action and forbearance personally, as if the sole and conscious purpose is to upset, insult or embarrass; the relentless blame for things that are beyond anyone’s control; or the threat of abandonment to punish ingratitude (which, again, is evidenced by practically every act or forbearance), these folks seem to have mastered the maternal art of emotional blackmail. Somehow, the way to achieve progressive policy outcomes, no matter how narrow or esoteric, is to emotionally blackmail and punish insufficiently-appreciative Democrats by electing (or enabling the election of) Republicans.

    It could also be that we got so used to George W. Bush and the 107th, 108th and 109th Congresses governing as if 99% of the public were far-right Fox News/RedState “conservatives,” and as if 99% of the public had voted for them, that we expect Democrats to do the same. Yet we reveal our own shoe-on-the-other-foot hypocrisy in doing so, because we spent all those years complaining that a president who may not have even been properly elected, and who nonetheless lost the popular vote, governed as if he had a sweeping mandate; i.e., he governed as if the country was made up only of people who voted, or would vote, for him.

    President Obama, on the other hand, has governed with the understanding that the nation is not made up entirely, or even predominantly, of left-wing liberal ideologues (no matter how often or loudly our friends at NewsCorp and ClearChannel say that he is one); i.e., he has governed as if this were a nation that actually contains people who are not far-left liberals. Imagine that.

    I also agree with Bob that we shouldn’t discount the aftereffects of the 2008 primaries, which were a lot more bitter and divisive than a lot of us remember. Sometimes, when your choice loses out to someone else, you go to pretty extraordinary lengths (sometimes without even realizing it) to prove to yourself that your choice was the right one; that you knew better than everyone else. Witness the Right™’s unhinged freakout over Obama’s election; no one likes to lose, and we sometimes rationalize losing by convincing ourselves that we were one of the wise, reasonable, uncorrupted few who “refused to drink the Kool-Aid” and “didn’t believe the hype” and “thought for ourselves” and made the better choice than the Kool-Aid-drinking, hype-believing, mindless, uninformed, robotic, brainwashed masses.

    It reminds me of when “Titanic” came out, to universal critical acclaim and overwhelming box office, which gave birth to a whole cottage industry of people pretending to hate the movie, pointing out all of its picayune flaws, calling it the “worst movie ever” and expressing disbelief and consternation that anyone could believe otherwise; just to prove that they were smarter, more sophisticated, more independent-minded, less susceptible to hype, etc., than everyone else.

    This whole “no-one-gets-it-but-me” attitude is not limited to any political cohort; it’s shared by right-wingers and left-wingers alike. No one has a monopoly on wanting to feel heroic, and to be seen by others as heroic. That’s one of the main emotional forces behind the Tea Party, the Occupy movement, and the anti-Obama Left.

    Regardless, I think we all know where this is heading. Liberal discontent, coupled with the GOP and right-wing media’s relentless, shameless and highly effective fictionalizing of the Obama presidency, will put Mitt Romney in the White House with a Republican congress in 2013. Then, liberals can go back to feeling oppressed and victimized, complaining about how dangerous the Republicans and the Right are, like we did during the Bush years, until the country elects the next Democratic president to clean up the next Republican disaster, and we can then go right back to feeling betrayed and disappointed and taken for granted and start the cycle all over again.

    • Scopedog

      “This whole “no-one-gets-it-but-me” attitude is not limited to any political cohort; it’s shared by right-wingers and left-wingers alike.”

      Sad but very, very true. And as you pointed out, it’s not limited to politics as well; it’s very prevalent in entertainment, movies especially (go check out an Ain’t It Cool News talkback forum–some of those commenting really make one wish to be able to reach through the screen and unscrew their heads against the threads).

      Greenwald is…well, he’s just pretty noxious to me right now. He’s spent so much time sending withering fire in the direction of the President that I seriously wonder if he remembers that the Republican Party does exist and that that party’s policies have been the real cause behind America’s current woes.

      • Chris Andersen

        I honestly don’t mind most of Greenwald’s criticism of Obama. Where he lost me was in his implication that anyone who didn’t agree with him was just as bad, if not worse, than the Bushies.

        In Greenwald’s mind you simply can’t have a different point of view. You either agree with him or you are the enemy.

        He’s Manichean to the core.

        • GrafZeppelin127

          Ironic, since he wrote an entire book on that topic about George W. Bush, called A Tragic Legacy: How a Good-vs.-Evil Mentaily Destroyed the Bush Presidency.

        • missliberties

          Yes! He is what he claims to hate most, an authoritarian spokesman for ‘the left’. Don’t contradict him or else.

    • peonyharp

      Beautifully said, Graf, especially:

      [Bush] who nonetheless lost the popular vote, governed as if he had a sweeping mandate; i.e., he governed as if the country was made up only of people who voted, or would vote, for him.

      President Obama, on the other hand, has governed with the understanding that the nation is not made up entirely, or even predominantly, of left-wing liberal ideologues (no matter how often or loudly our friends at NewsCorp and ClearChannel say that he is one); i.e., he has governed as if this were a nation that actually contains people who are not far-left liberals. Imagine that.

    • My god, you’re right. The emo progs are, collectively, a Jewish mother.

      • The only one he missed is “you’re going to miss me when I’m dead/gone”.

        • Isn’t that like “you’ll be sorry when I stay home instead of voting!”?

    • Sometimes, when your choice loses out to someone else, you go to pretty extraordinary lengths

      I just read an article in the Chicago Tribune about a “new” poll that suggests that Obama should not run for a second term because the political climate is much more favorable to Hillary Clinton being elected and doing a far better job than Obama could ever hope to do (again, according to the poll).

    • Chris Andersen

      “Is it that liberals are incapable of feeling satisfied, or is it just that they get off on feeling dissatisfied, aggrieved, betrayed, “taken for granted,” etc.?”

      I’ve thought much the same thing. Throughout 2009, I couldn’t shake the feeling that liberals actually wanted Obama to fail because then it would prove to them that they were right that the Democratic leadership was out to screw them. They have almost become so used to disappointment that they are disappointed when things actually go their way.

  • FTA: “Since the glorious triumph of revolution never really pans out, eventually you’ll return to the alternative, bitching. But there is a third option that lies between the two—the ceaseless grind of politics.”

    Goddamn, that’s depressing. Violent overthrow, meaningless bitching or just dealing with a completely broken system… those are our options? Yeah, we’re doomed.

    I hate sounding like a broken record, but this is why people are pissed: there simply are no solutions. It’s going to be a ceaseless grind of one side calling the other godless Abortionators who will take your money and give it to all the black people and one side saying “you are a bunch of lunatics and crazy people, but you’re who we have to negotiate with, so let’s do lunch on Thursday.”

    • jeanne marie

      Any other suggestions?

      • Oh I have plenty of suggestions, as I’m sure you do as well, but none of them will ever happen because of the problems described above. As I said, there are no solutions.

        Although I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect our leaders to have solutions to this problem, but I’m sure that’s a pipe dream now too.

        It’s truly sad, but America has become the guy who works a horrible job, is forced to work on the holidays, frequently pulls 12+ hour days, but just keeps slogging along because “at least I have a job.” We’re just going to keep slogging along because at least we’re not Ubekibekibekistanstan.

        • Chris Andersen

          There are solutions. There just aren’t *easy* solutions. Your correct that part of the problem is that people want their to be easy solutions and therefore they get upset when it doesn’t turn out that way. Where you are incorrect is in suggesting that their disappointment is justified.

          Sorry, but life is hard work. It has always been hard work. It will always be hard work. Only fools and grifters push/believe in the idea that there are easy solutions.

          • missliberties

            There are solutions. And they take TIME!

            Cynicism is the enemy, and the left is filled with it.

            Where is the optimism? We know we are on the right side of the issues, especially as it relates to the middle class.

          • Scopedog

            “Cynicism is the enemy, and the left is filled with it.”

            Yep–so much so that it’s literally squirting out of their ears, in some cases.

          • Chris Andersen

            Achh! Why do I never notice the typos until I come back and read what I wrote an hour later?

        • Scopedog

          I don’t believe in “no solutions” situations.

          (Yeah, I know I ripped it from STAR TREK. But it works.)

    • Chris Andersen

      “Goddamn, that’s depressing. Violent overthrow, meaningless bitching or just dealing with a completely broken system… those are our options? Yeah, we’re doomed.”

      It’s comments like this that makes me think that maybe Conservatives are right when they characterize Liberals as whiners who just want things handed to them without having to do any hard work.

      • missliberties

        clap clap clap clap

        Worse these ‘liberals’ never, never admit that they are wrong. They want a utopia that does not exist, and never will, and they are willing to blow the world up, with nihilism to make their point.

        I think it’s called winning the battle and losing the war.

      • It’s comments like this that make me think that maybe conservatives are right when they characterize liberals as condescending d-bags. Some of you folks are putting words in my mouth at the first sign of anyone even slightly disagreeing with your worldview.

        Where have I demanded a “wet dream” candidate or “want things handed to me”? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect our leaders to actually do something to improve the country rather than play the never-ending game of politics.

        I 100% concede that becomes impossible when the sane and rational party tries to do something and the other party becomes the political equivalent of monkeys throwing poop. And yes, the poo-flinging party does nothing except try to win elections, but again, it’s depressing.

        As for “it’s hard work,” it’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s really nothing we, the people, can do. Yes, liberals need to get off their asses and vote more, but when 99.9999% of the time, the campaign with the most money wins, hard work doesn’t stand a chance.

        • missliberties

          “…the campaign with the most money wins….”

          That is actually not true. See Ohio. See Wisconsin.

          If people get active, knock on doors and engage in the work of getting out the information and the vote, they can win.

    • thirst4music

      “There simply are no solutions” sounds like a wonderful security blanket to those who need an excuse not to engage in creative dialogue that might actually generate new approaches. If there are no solutions and there is no hope, then why are you wasting your time writing about it?

  • ranger11

    Hey Bob, I’m predicting you might get a fair number of comments for this post. Just a hunch, I don’t know why.

  • “the president is, in fact, moving policy-making to the left”


    • ranger11


      • True in the sense that we’re still waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out to the right, Obama has managed to make some steps to the left. But Obama is not a liberal.

        “The most liberal president since FDR” may be true, but someone out there is also the tallest midget. It’s wonderful that Obama is a smart politician that still has some interest in getting everyone on board with a plan, but why do the stark-raving lunatics on the right get to run for president while anyone who identifies as far-left couldn’t even get on a ballot for dog catcher?

        • ranger11

          Personally, I wouldn’t vote for someone far-left. They scare the shit out of me as much as the right wing. The 1972 Democratic Convention was a farce. McGovern was a good man but Alan fucking Ginsberg chanting a mantra as he gives his acceptance speech. Not my cup of tea to say the least.

          • I’m not necessarily saying I’d vote for someone who’s far-left either… but why are those voices completely ignored while the ultra far right could win the presidency as soon as one year from now?

            In Washington, it’s a battle between moderate Democrats and right-wing nutjobs. You can’t win that battle, the scales are tipped too heavily toward crazy.

        • Here’s the problem. The America that would elect your wet dream fantasy progressive, doesn’t exist; and probably never will. Sanders, Grayson, Warren, or Kucinich will never be President.

          And even one of them did become president, the same contingent of the left that despises President Obama, would despise him or her too. Firebaggers would hate Elizabeth Warren’s guts by now if she were elected in 2008. The only President Greenwald would be happy with is one who resigned in protest immediately after inauguration. Why? Because these are people who’ve explicitly advocated for liberalism to follow the path of tea party style conservatism; to become an unreasonable, intractable, “give me everything I want or I’ll take us all down”, political ideology. That’s not a responsible way to govern. President Obama, like any other responsible leader, recognizes that. And a lot of liberals hate him for it.

          • I’m not even asking for a “wet dream” president, I’m just asking why a frothing psychopath on the right could occupy the oval office while Occupy Wall Street has been easily written off as unemployed hippies who need a bath?

            I don’t disagree with the heart of the article, but my problem is that the scales have been tipped so heavily to the right, that there may be no coming back from it.

          • thirst4music

            You said “may be” instead of “there are no solutions” this time. That’s progress.

        • You don’t get to say who is a liberal and who isn’t a liberal. Barack Obama is a liberal, and all of his policies, including Health Care spells liberal, just because he cannot get everything done the way you want it done, does not correlate to, he isn’t a liberal.

          • And you don’t get to say who is a liberal and who isn’t a liberal. Barack Obama is center-left, and that’s fine, he’s the best center-left politician in my lifetime. But liberal? I think it’s a bit of a stretch.

          • DarnellFromLA


            * FDR – Social Security in its original form excluded 70-80% of adult blacks by excluding the jobs that 70-80% of adult blacks held at that time. (domestic service, agricultural labor, etc) The NAACP was AGAINST Social Security, calling it “a sieve with enough holes for most negroes to fall through.

            And you’re upset with the Obama’s ACA in its original form?

            Also, Social Security passed in 1935, with new taxes being imposed beginning in 1937 (during the depression) but didn’t start paying the first monthly benefits until 1940!

            Obama’s ACA began being phased in right away, and will go into full effect in 2014. (faster and more broad based than Social Security as it was conceived)

            Then there was FDR’s refusal to back Anti-Lynching laws, his internment of the Japanese, EVEN AFTER their sons had joined the Army, and FINALLY FDR promising the NAACP in 1943 that he would integrate the Armed Forces, then going back on his promise entirely.

            Sooo, “FDR, REAL Liberal!” Right?

            * Harry Truman – Or as he is called on Dailykos: “A real liberal fighter.”

            Did you know in 1946 Harry Truman used troops as strikebreakers against striking railroad workers? Yup. When the Union kept striking he famously asked congress for the power to DRAFT STRIKING WORKERS INTO THE ARMY. (The Union was forced to give in to the moneymen as a result)

            This shredded the relationship between Dems and Unions and Dems were slaughtered in that years midterms.

            *JFK – Kennedy immediately failed to pass his signature education and elderly funding bills, and then quickly proposed the largest tax cut in American history. (50% of the cuts went to the top 1 %, cutting the upper tax brackets by 25%!)

            JFK’s civil rights bill WAS NOT the same bill LBJ passed in 1965. JFK’s civil rights bill (which he also failed to get passed) was called by the NAACP: “a surrender to racists”.

            (And BEFORE JFK was President he voted in the Senate for bills requiring students to take loyalty oaths before getting school loans, and was very close to Sen. Joe McCarthy. JFK was so loyal to McCarthy that he refused to cast a vote the day the Senate censored Joe McCarthy)

            * LBJ – Really? Vietnam? Forced to withdraw by the liberal wing of his party?

            * Carter – Had a larger congressional majority than Obama, yet refused to even attempt Health Care Reform, because he “didn’t believe Health Care was a right, or that the government should provide it.”

            * Clinton – Slashed welfare, SIGNED DOMA INTO LAW, caved on gays in the mililtary resulting in DADT, V-chips, school uniforms, pulled any and every nominee (like Lani Guanier) at the first sign of trouble with the GOP.

            After losing congress 1994 Clinton famously declared “The Era of Big Government is Over!”

            Clinton’s welfare “reform” was so hated by liberals that 2 officials in Health and Human Services RESIGNED in protest.

            And even though he had a larger House majority than Obama, and just 3 votes less than Obama in the Senate, saw his Health Care reform bill get buried by his own party in congress (1993).

            (did I mention his chief domestic advisors were Dick Morris and David Gergen?)


            — So yeah, if you don’t realize Obama is the most successful liberal President in history then you need to read more.

          • ranger11

            This pattern repeats itself for each Democratic presidency. It’s uncanny and amazing. Reading histories of these periods gets depressing.

          • I never said a single word about Obama’s healthcare act. Once again, putting words in my mouth.

          • Fan-flippin’-tastic.

          • DarnellFromLA

            Amen. ‘All or Nothing’ Liberals love to point to the speech JFK made where he proclaimed he was a “LIBERAL.”

            What they leave out is AFTER he was actually ELECTED President he was asked in a press conference if he would still describe himself as a “Liberal”, to which JFK declined to do, saying “he didn’t believe in labels.”

            You will note this is the same response given by Obama that drives some of the same Liberals who idolize JFK into fits.

            (Watch the wonderful documentary “The Virtual JFK” for the footage of the press conference I mentioned. via Netflix)

    • Scopedog

      Jesus….please, list facts to back this up.

      You just proved why Bob–and Jonathan Chait–were right.

      • ranger11


    • Particularly brilliant post. Greenwald like, in fact.

      I pity those of you desperate or dumb enough to have been taken in by the pathetic and foolish antics of the Greenwalds and Hamshers.

      • missliberties

        and I would add, these folks have been brilliantly played by the right.

        Many Puma’s were GOP operatives (see NoQuarter) trying to divide and conquer and diminish the enormous popularity that Obama entertained when he came to office.

        • never mind………. [brain is non-functioning today]

        • villemar

          Right, no one seems to remember Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” in 2008.

          • missliberties

            OMG. Brain bleach needed immediately.

            I just took a short cruise of the great orange satan and a diary on the rec list that insists, INSISTS, that the President is complicit in a police state because he hasn’t done x,y and and z. These people scare me. They are totally and completely unhinged.

    • Your right. Its false if you choose to ignore the legislation that has been signed into law over the last 3 years. It is objectively to the left of all the legislation signed by the last 3 Presidents combined. Thats a fact.