Politico Just Realized Progressives Have Gripes About Obama

-By Warner Todd Huston

Now that Barack Obama has been successfully re-elected, The Politico has miraculously discovered that some progressives are not exactly thrilled with the most left-wing president in American history. The lefties want more, says Politico. But, is this turn about really that sudden?

In a lengthy December 2 piece, Politico lays out the left-wing voices in the “progressive media” that have lately taken to criticizing the president for not leaning far enough to the left. If not criticizing, exactly, perhaps a more fitting word is they are “encouraging” Obama to take up the left-wing policies he’s given lip service to but not pushed too hard to implement.

The absurd aspect to Politico’s piece is that the Internet newser seems to think this criticism is all new. One has to wonder why Politico has paid no attention to the far left’s criticism until now? Perhaps Politico wanted to make it seem as if the left was united and had no qualms over Obama but now that he’s safely re-elected, it is Politico, rather than the far left, that finds it is safe to criticize the president?

Granted the progressive media establishment has never gone too far over board into criticizing Obama on the issues Politico notes, but there has been a steady, though quiet undercurrent of criticism for Obama’s many failures to go as far left as the progressives always wanted.

Politico posits that the lefty media, of which it is a part, is now faced with a choice: “Should the left continue always to play the loyal attack dog against the GOP, blaming the opposition at all hours of the news cycle for intransigence? Or, should it redirect some of that energy on the president, holding him to his promises and encouraging him to be a more outspoken champion of liberal causes?”

Of course, there isn’t much question there. The left-wing establishment will never part ways with Obama. So, there isn’t much chance that they’d ever cease being attack dogs against the GOP. But what about holding Obama accountable? Are they ready to do that now as Politico says?

Politico’s main premise in this story is that these extremist voices on the left are now ready to give Obama mild criticism and try and push him ever more leftward, especially now that no more elections are on the horizon for the President.

“Already, there are rumblings of change,”Politico notes.

In the days and weeks following Obama’s victory, progressive voices, primarily in print media, have made efforts to push the president on key parts of the unfinished liberal agenda – including climate change, drone strikes, troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, civil liberties and gun control.

Leave aside the essential hypocrisy of claiming Obama was perfect only a month ago, but suddenly criticism is allowable now that he’s safely re-elected, the big question here is this: is Politico even right that the left has had a hands off policy towards Obama on the above issues until now?

Of course, the truth is the extremists on the left have been complaining about Obama’s failure to pay 100% fealty to them for several years. He has been criticized for not closing Gitmo, for not implementing a gun confiscation policy, for not ending the war in Afghanistan, for ignoring climate change, and he’s especially been criticized on the left for his failure to even bring Card Check to a vote — especially by unions for the latter.

The progressive criticism for Obama has never been even one quarter as vicious as it was for Bush, of course, but it has been there. Left-wingers such as Glenn Greenwald, extremist TV yakers like Cenk Uygur and folks on MSNBC, and The New York Times have all criticized Obama from the left. On his The Daily Show, Progressive hero Jon Stewart has also hit the president from the left on occasion.

As to unions, they’ve been livid that Obama failed them on getting The Employee Free Choice Act passed. Unions took action on their ire during the 2010 election, too, when many said they’d withhold support for Congressional Democrats because of Obama’s failure to listen to them. Some even followed through on that threat.

Now, don’t mistake what I am saying, here. I am not saying Obama has not been the most extremist, left-wing President we’ve ever had. I am saying that the extreme, progressive left didn’t get as many lefty policies out of him as they thought they would and they are now trying to push him even further left. This isn’t because Obama hasn’t wanted to go as far left as the progressives want him to, it’s because it has been politically impossible to do so.

There is no will among voters to go as far left as the progressives want to go and Washington hasn’t been able to carry that ball forward because of that. This is why Obama has used his ability to regulate as a proxy for getting far left-wing policies put into place.

The point is, Politico’s sudden recognition that there is criticism for Obama from the left is a bit disingenuous and perhaps says more about Politico than it does the far left.

In any case, there was one interesting, or maybe amusing, bit in the piece. It came at the end in a quote from shrill New York Magazine columnist Frank Rich who noted that the “progressive media” would now rather talk about the next president than the current one.

Asked how he thought liberal media would cover Obama’s second term, Frank Rich, the progressive New York Magazine columnist, told POLITICO: “I thought everyone had already moved on to Hillary.”

Does anyone really believe her when she says she doesn’t want to run?
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001