Politics & Media
Jun 26, 2008, 11:24AM

Obama Shows He's A Politician, Prompting Displeasure From Progressive Bloggers

Barack Obama's recent vote in favor of granting telecommunications companies immunity for cooperating with government surveillance has riled up bloggers. Since Obama was never their preferred candidate to begin with, they've latched onto this issue in an attempt to hold him to their standard of what a Democrat should be.

Obama’s post-partisan persona hasn’t always meshed so well with the noisy and contentious Netroots, and his rise to prominence has come without their full-throated support. He told reporters in February that he doesn’t read blogs and has long been viewed as cool to the Netroots — a notion that the candidate’s new media director, Joe Rospars, disputed this week at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York, saying Obama was a favorite of the readers of the major bloggers.

Either way, the Netroots eventually took Obama’s side against Clinton, and some came to view him as a champion of progressive causes.

His stance on the FISA bill, however, has brought Obama back down to earth, in part because the liberal blogosphere cares more about civil liberties than many of the other traditional issues that have long dominated the Democratic agenda. While the mainstream media fixated on Obama’s decision to opt out of the public financing system — and newspaper editorial boards eviscerated him — the Netroots commended Obama for showing political savvy. After all, the readers of liberal blogs are many of the small donors who gave Obama reason to reject public financing.

  • I think Politico, and other print and online outlets, are bored right now and they're trying to invent trouble where there is none. I read Kos and Talking Points Memo and despite some differences with Obama there's no doubt those sites will be go all out for him in the fall, as well as the Democratic congressional candidates. If progressives agreed with EVERYTHING Obama said or proposed, THAT would be a real story, not this nonsense.

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  • I don't disagree that that those progressive sites will still line up behind Obama, but I think you're missing the real anger Progressives are feeling as a result of this bill. Not just anger at Obama, but anger at the Democratic party for giving W. nearly everything he wanted out of that piece of legislation. Kos and TPM and Fire Dog Lake are really effin' pissed. Deep in the soul pissed, in some cases. They see it as more than politics as usual for a general election; they see it as the party as a whole caving in, getting bullied back into the stereotype that Democrats are weak on terror and on military. It's depressing for these outlets to watch poll results for the upcoming House, Senate and Presidential elections all lean toward Democratic Party candidates and yet, even with a "majority" in the Senate, they're still getting pushed around by Mr. 26%.

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  • That Kos is "effin' pissed" doesn't bother me in the least. That's his shtick, and a lucrative one it is. When Obama's in office next January, the euphoria will be all-consuming, and this retreat on FISA will be forgotten.

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  • I disagree. Frankly I'd rather see progressives unafraid to criticize their golden boy when he deserves it. Hell yes they'll be ecstatic if brings it on home, but if they're willing to jump on him for position jockeying during the election, then they'll certainly be on his tail when he's in the Oval Office. FISA might lose its public significance in the long run (everything nowadays is getting blown up, FISA as well as Unity, New Hampshire or wherever the hell Clinton and Obama are), but I think it will be an important reference point for Progressive criticism of an Obama administration. On FISA, he said he'd "fix it" while in office. We'll see.

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  • Are you saying Obama, once in office, will do the equivalent of a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" that Clinton did in his first days at the White House?

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  • No, I don't know what he'll do—his defense was vague and "centrist"—but I hope he won't simply ignore it.

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