The change that wasn’t: Obama’s crumbling left flank

The disillusionment with Obama from liberals and progressives is profound and growing. It’s not just that hopes were too high but rather that very little that was promised has materialized. Health reform doesn’t really take effect until 2014. The financial reform bill is mostly toothless. Obama seems determined to keep DADT in force regardless of his promises. The torture policies of the Bush era remain in place. The economy is not improving, and unemployment is much too high.

“It’s the economy, stupid” to be sure. But, it’s more than that. There’s a sense of being betrayed on the left, that Obama promised much, and now deliberately ignores those who worked hard to elect him. He wouldn’t be the first politician to do this of course, but it does seem so calculated and studied coming from Obama. I’ve been blogging on the left since 2003 and follow dozens of liberal, progressive, and hard left blogs and websites on a daily basis. The movement away from supporting Obama started en masse a few months ago and is now pervasive.

At the core, there are two related issues causing this. Obama seemingly never met an investment bank he didn’t want to throw hundreds of billions at, and he apparently does not know how to throw a punch. It is bizarre that someone who came up in Chicago where politics is a contact sport never fires lightning bolts at those who displease him (such payback of course is expected from presidents.) Remember when Obama called the sit-down meeting at the White House for investment bank CEOs and three of them said they couldn’t make it because it was too foggy and their private jets couldn’t take off? Obama meekly thanked them for calling in by phone. Sheesh. By contrast, LBJ would have flame-broiled them had they pulled a stunt like that with him.

The first attacks on Obama and his continual bailout of the banking system did not come from the left, who was rather late picking up on this, probably because they were hopeful that Obama would do the right thing. Rather, the attacks, with serious research backed by facts came from financial (mostly libertarian) blogs like Zero Hedge and Naked Capitalism. This trend continues now with foreclosure-gate, which was essentially broken by one blog, 4closurefraud. The stories have since gone mainstream and have now been picked up by big liberal and progressive blogs too, as scanning DailyKos, Crooks and Liars, Firedoglake, and Americablog will show.

Imagine my surprise though when all of the disillusionment just appeared in a NY Times op-ed by liberal Frank Rich titled What happened to change we can believe in? Rich details the growing feeling the Obama is primarily beholden to the banks, and that “the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.” There still have been no criminal prosecutions into the obvious frauds and corruption that tanked the economy. That is Obama’s primary problem. He is seen as doing too little too late about our broken financial system, except when it benefits a few who are already wealthy. Worse, he never really explains his actions and too often seems to denigrate those who disagree with him with lofty disapproval that comes across as elitist.

The liberal blogosphere has belatedly come around to recognizing all of this, even as many say Democrats must be voted for because the Republicans are even worse. But, saying vote for me because the other guy is worse is a losing proposition for democracy and the health of the country.