Politics & Media
Jan 04, 2010, 11:19AM

The progressive concern

Has Obama's far left contingent turned against him?

Over the past few weeks -- as I traveled abroad, attended holiday parties, and went through my appointed rounds -- I kept encountering people who posed the same question: "What's happened with Obama?" These were liberal Democrats, and they feel, depending on the person, somewhat, partially, or fully betrayed by the president whom they helped elect with their small donations and/or volunteer sweat. These people were truly troubled, some by the expansion of the Afghanistan war, some by the emasculation of the health care reform legislation, some by President Obama's embrace of corporate-world advisers. (This means you, Larry Summers.) I know that my sampling is rather unscientific. But none of the worriers are bloggers or professional progressives who make their living fretting about a presidential drift to the center. They merely are foot-soldiers (or ex-foot soldiers) in Obama's base, and now they find themselves quite perplexed and in desperate need of explanation. (I'm getting a steady stream of e-mails from readers expressing the same concerns.)

  • I like David Corn's writing quite a lot, even when he's too lefty for my tastes. But I think that while he's correct that a disappointed liberal base doesn't augur well for the midterm elections, it's probably more important for President Obama to enthuse the independent voters to rally behind his agenda. After all, it's not the liberal member of Congress who'll face trouble this fall; it's the moderate Democrats who won in Republican-leaning states and districts during the last disastrous years of the Bush administration.

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