Monday, June 29, 2009

The new enemy? Left takes aim at moderate Democrats

New target of the Left: Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, strong, early Obama backer

Blogging at Open Left, self-styled "progressive" blogger Chris Bowers takes aim at the new enemy of the Left, moderate (and not so moderate) Democrats:

We have spent so long living under a government that was dominated by the right-wing of the Republican Party, that we are still having a difficult time coping with the new political reality. The right-wing is no longer the problem. The so-called "moderates" in Congress are.

From watering down the size of the stimulus, to weakening the climate change bill, to seriously threatening the public option, to blocking EFCA, cramdown and full voting rights for D.C., moderates have consistently blocked the truly transformative aspects of the Democratic agenda. Despite this, the full force of progressive media attacks remain focused on the right-wing, rather than upon these so-called moderates.

Warming to his thesis, Bowers claims that the cap and trade bill that just passed the House in a squeaker vote after a host of compromises to tack together enough votes was less than "transformative," not because of right-wing Republicans, who probably would have opposed any such bill, but the Democrats who pressed for the compromises before signing on. Somewhat strangely, since she is not a member of the House, Bowers singles out Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill based on her publicly stated relief that the bill won't wreck the mining industry in her state.

He concludes, "These so-called moderates are the real barrier to the progressive change that the country needs right now. As such, we should be directing our fire at them, rather that at the right-wing."

I can't speak for McCaskill, a key, early, strong supporter of Barack Obama when he badly needed that support against Hillary, but being a "so-called moderate" Democrat myself, I want to say that I'm delighted to see my fellow moderates in both Houses busy "watering down" some of the more risky, fanciful or plain destructive impulses of the Administration and the Congressional leadership.

Bowers is far from alone on the Left in ramping up the invective against Democrats who aren't down for the whole so-called "progressive" agenda. This goes back at least to mid-March when brickbats were hurled at Evan Bayh after he announced the formation of a loose-knit caucus of 15 moderate Senate Democrats (including McCaskill). MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, among others, took to calling the 15 and the 49 members of the House Democrats' Blue Dog Coalition "Conservadems." Various leftie blogs like like firedoglake, digby and Crooks and Liars took up the cry. Some excoriated the moderates as "anti-Obama."

That was -- and is -- nonsense, of course. All these new targets of the Left support Obama, and he supports and needs them. When some final health care bill -- inevitably a compromise, because compromise is what democratic government is all about -- makes it across the finish line, it will get there with the support of the moderates or not at all.

There will come a time in the next year or so when the Left will turn on Obama, too. That's already begun to happen on foreign affairs and national security issues. Salon's influential blogger, Glenn Greenwald, is already lambasting Obama almost daily for what he views as Obama's wholesale adoption of George W. Bush's counter-terrorism policies. Then, there is the matter of the Afghan war -- now clearly "Obama's war." While the bulk of the Democratic Party -- not just the moderates -- understand and support Obama's war policy, it's only a matter of time before the Left goes all out in anti-war mode, this time against Obama.

Obama is doing as much as he can to keep the Left on his side -- but the truth is that nothing short of lock-step commitment to the "progressive" agenda, as defined by a small core of activists, academics and journalists, will satisfy them. Like their right-wing counterparts, the Left sees only good and evil. Stray a bit from the "good" and you'll find yourself written off as evil.

Any thoughts about this? Post a comment.

1 comment:

  1. The Democrats are in power and they are complaining they don't have enough! They had better be careful and remember the lessons of the last administration. No one wants to hear all that "with us or against us" rhetoric anymore.

    They are doing exactly what everyone is criticizing the GOP for doing; shrinking the tent.