Greg Sargent has a good rundown of various angles of complaint against the Obama administration. I am unsure as to whether his suggestion to the Obama administration of “engagement” with his left flank is necessarily the best advice, but I’ll leave the politicking to the expert.
I did wonder, however, which of the three camps my own dissent with the Obama administration comes from. Essentially, Sargent lays out three rough areas of disagreement:
- The unenthused base — union workers, poor people, minorities
- The issue-oriented dissent — civil libertarians, doves, consumer rights advocates
- The politics-oriented dissent — MoveOn, progressive organizers, populists
I guess I’d probably fit more into the 2nd category. I think that Obama’s actions have been fairly good politics for Obama. That is to say, Obama still remains relatively popular, and his place in history will be largely affirmed. He saved the nation from an economic crisis, passed his signature health care and financial reform legislation, and handled various crises essentially unscathed. (The jury’s still out on Iraqistan.) That said, I think that Group 3 has a good argument in terms of the party as a whole.
As far as the “stop whining” idea, there’s only so much that whining can do. As in the health care and financial reform debates, it has become clear that I would rather have something in the form of a watered-down bill, as opposed to nothing which is what the alternative appears to be. In this case, I would prefer Obama to the alternative.
Nevertheless, I think the importance of the Overton window cannot be overstated here. The Republicans are veering more towards the crazy all the time, and are pulling the debate to the right constantly. Why aren’t lefties allowed to do the same? Must we always defer to The Leader? I don’t think liberalism is any more conducive to autocracy than conservatism, and certainly Republican base types have rebelled against Bush and the establishment many a time (see: immigration reform).
If anything, the Obama Administration should welcome the whining! It makes the center all the more attracted to him. Nothing makes a moderate Democrat happier than punching a hippie, or vicariously watching the President punch a hippie.