Why is it that Obama says he believes in compromise, yet never does so with the Left? This is certainly a question liberals and progressives are increasingly asking, with some now taking action to oppose Obama.
Obama’s proposed tax cut deal (which he made privately with Republicans without even consulting Democratic leadership) has ignited a firestorm of protest from liberals and progressives who view the tax cuts as yet another serious betrayal by Obama of what he promised while campaigning. In what could be a harbinger of protest to come, some well-known leftists have signed An Open Letter to the Left Establishment (ProtestObama.org) calling on “high profile” progressives who supported Obama to join them in sustained protest against the president’s policies, starting with civil disobedience at the White House on Dec. 16. They hope this will “help create the climate for larger and increasingly disruptive expressions of dissent” in the future. Big liberal blogs like Crooks & Liars and Americablog, who were early vocal supporters of Obama, are becoming increasingly disillusioned with him while the further left and edgier FireDogLake has been skeptical and sometimes hostile toward Obama for quite some time.
Even establishment Democrats are becoming outraged. Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), a Blue Dog and no liberal, said the Obama-McConnell tax cut plan is “almost morally corrupt” while an unnamed Democratic member of the House was heard to mutter “F**k the president” during a debate. These are astonishing statements. Obama may well be facing a palace revolt.
Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich have also been increasingly critical of Obama, with Reich recently saying that Democrats should ignore Bill Clinton’s support for Obama’s plan.
“I admire Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. I advised the former and worked for the latter. They are good men. But they have … been outwitted by the privileged and powerful of America.”
Those less charitable might opine that the two are part of that privileged and wealthy class, and are defending it and their own interests against those of the rest of us.
This dissent has been building for some time now, and was triggered by the tax cut plan and the belief that Obama has simply caved one too many times without a fight. Or did he cave? The Young Turks ask in a video “Is Obama weak, gutless or complicit?” with Cenk Uygur saying “Obama’s positions are to the right of Ronald Reagan.” It’s important to note that growing mistrust of Obama is happening across all spectrums of the left, from centrists like Landrieu out to Noam Chomsky and the other signatories at ProtestObama (who admittedly were hardly enthralled with him to begin with, but are even less so now.)
The only ones who are missing in combat are the hardcore Marxists, who have been oddly absent during our current crisis of capitalism, a crisis they say they’ve waited for decades to happen. They had significant influence during the anti-Iraq war protests through front groups that organized the protests. But now that real protest is building, they are nowhere to be found. One has to wonder if they’ve just been play-acting all along and thus have no idea what to do now.
In my view, the tax plan is extraordinarily ill-advised, both ethically and politically. It gives large amounts of money to the ultra wealthy who don’t really need it, and is doing so during bad economic times. It breaks a major campaign promise that Obama made. Worse, he negotiated it without consulting Democrats, something which violates about every unspoken rule of politics (“Thou shalt not enrage or backstab thine allies.”) And it’s arguable the tax cuts won’t do much to spur the economy and will probably led to an even worse showdown next December when the Democratic parts of the bill expire while Republican ones still have another year to go.
Thus, as Krugman says, “So there are real reasons to worry here. Obama may be buying off the hostage-takers by … giving them more hostages.” And with it, he is losing support fast from what used to be his base.