The Left is frustrated with Obama

The left wing of the Democratic party is frustrated that Barack Obama, judging from his appointments and announcements, is not handing them a bunch of victories. Obama seems to be going slow in withdrawing from Iraq, making corporate free market types his economics advisors, and reaching out across party and ideological lines. He even forgave Joe Lieberman for supporting John McCain, letting him stay in the democratic caucus and keep his senate committees. Many on the left are angry because they were his most ardent supporters, and they expect payback.

I consider this to be encouraging good news. Let’s see how Obama handles his extremist supporters. Also, everyone should remember that he hasn’t taken office yet.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    Barry hasn’t even been elected to the Office of President-Elect yet.

  • kerner

    So…what you’re saying is that Obama is treating liberals the way Republicans treat conservatives. I am not quite sure whether this is good news or not.

  • Don S

    It’s very early. Obama doesn’t even take office for another month and a half, and is facing an economic crisis as well as the delicate end stage of an apparently successful war in Iraq. He has now been thoroughly briefed on national security issues which have helped him to realize how woefully ignorant the left is regarding the seriousness dangers of of terrorism. The worst thing he could do is make radical moves which would further upset a delicate balance right now.

    When the left takes power, they always struggle with the realities of governing versus the demands of their special interest constituency. Clinton greatly overreached in 1993 with his “gays in the military” and universal healthcare efforts, and paid a huge price in the 1994 elections. Obama does not want to make the same mistake out of the gate.

    Let’s see where things stand 1-2 years into his administration, and then we can judge just how moderately he intends to govern.

  • FW

    obama is a centrist liberal. he wiil sincerely attempt to govern by consensus and will be mindful of the 47% who voted for mc cain and not for him.

    we have not had a president like that (not-very-partisan) since bush senior and gerald ford. before that, eisenhower. all republicans now that I think of it!

  • FW

    the only people who are surprised at this are the ones who did not listen to what he said he would do, and what his philosophy of governance and law is. They instead thought he was lying and misrepresenting himself during the campaign.

    those seemed to believe that he was probably a secret radical communist bent on the radical overthrow of the constitution or some other ambitious hidden agenda. probably something to do with the gay agenda. and other agendas…. carl v. can tell you about all those…

    Obama will not make politically motivated decisions, but he will try to see where the general public long term consensus is at and govern from there. it will look the same but it won´t be really. he will take pains to not get to far out in front of public sentiment with anything radical or new. “no sudden moves” will be his mantra.

  • FW

    I think one of the reasons obama won the election is that there was an attempt to paint him as a radical. and when people saw him in debates and other venues, he simply did not appear as that. much as when expectations of ronald reagan were low, and when people saw him debate carter, they were surprised that he seemed more presidential than president carter.

    If obama succeeds in moving public discourse in a more civilized and polite direction, I will not at all be surprised.

  • Theresa K.

    Sheesh. He’s not even president yet! Let them be frustrated. It is awfully funny to see attack its own:

    “We’ll see,” said Eli Pariser, executive director of the liberal powerhouse, about what Obama will deliver. “If they turn out to be all disappointments, we’ll have a good three years to storm the gates at the White House.””

  • CRB

    Perhaps, unlike his some of his detractors and supporters, Obama understands Lincoln’s wisdom: “You can please some of the people some of the time, etc.”

  • Bike Bubba

    FW, Obama IS a radical. FOCA, Chicago gun bans, leave Iraq before they’re ready to defend themselves, another $850 billion in spending, “soak the rich,”…..what more do we need before people figure out that historically, he’s not been a centrist?

    Which is EXACTLY why the Kos types and others are ticked with him. In Chicago, in the Senate, and on the primary trail, Obama clearly represented himself as a creature of the far left. Now he’s hedging, as if during all those years of far-left activism, he knew that what he was doing actually wasn’t that great an idea after all. (and we all got to suffer a bit because of his votes–thanks Barack!)

    For once, I agree with the Kos types. There is a large degree of hypocrisy on Obama’s part here. Unlike those at Kos, I’m grateful that he’s backtracking on his promises, but that doesn’t change the kind of person he’s showing himself to be. Exodus 20:16, friends.

  • CRB

    Bike Bubba,
    “…the kind of person he’s showing himself to be.”
    Ummm, would that be, a politician?! :)

  • Kirk


    I’m seeing a lot of this mentality. During the campaign, it’s “Obama is a radical!” Now that the campaign is over and he’s showing that he may be more of a centerist (ie, making decisions that you endorse) it’s “Obama is a liar!”

    Shouldn’t we give the man the benefit of the doubt instead of being opposed to him simply for the sake of being opposed to him? I’m not asking you to blind yourself to his failings, I’m just saying maybe open your eyes to his positive qualities.

    and @10

    Precisely. Bush hasn’t exactly acted like the good conservative he touted himself as during the ’99 campaign, yet there aren’t cries (at least amongst the conservative crowd) that he’s some sort of lying heathen.

    Seriously, how about a little grace?

  • Bike Bubba

    Kirk, what do you call it when a man promises one thing and delivers another? Is that not a lie?

    Unless we are to believe that Obama has somehow forgotten his campaign promises, or never intended for us to believe them, we have no other choice but to conclude that Obama is one who lies for political gain.

    And as CRB notes, that makes him a “politician” as well, but to paraphrase Bob Kerrey’s quote about Clinton, “Obama is an unusually good politician.”

    It’s not pleasant, but hey–he’s turning back on many of his campaign promises within a month of the vote, before the electors have even had the chance to elect him. The far left is right to be ticked.

  • tODD

    Bubba (@12), what exactly are you claiming that Obama “promised” and did not “deliver”? How do explain your certainty in judgment, given that the man has not even been officially elected, much less taken office?

    If you’re going to call a man a liar (or hypocrite), you’d better be prepared to back it up. So give me an actual quote, and then show me how Obama has not delivered on that.

    Otherwise, it’s difficult not to conclude that you just don’t like him and will take your pot shots as you can.

  • The Scylding

    Heh – some weeks ago, we were all debating/discussing the American election fiercely.

    As of Friday, your northern neighbour is sitting wih a massive political crisis, with the newly elected (minority)government quite likely to fall by Moday the 8th – and not even CNN is carrying the story.

    Normally Canadian politics is boring – now we have a soap-opera rivalling yours, and nobody notices… sniff…..

  • Don S

    The Scylding @ 14: I’ve been following that one, though it is hard for those of us below the border to fully grasp parliamentary government, because a lot of it happens behind closed doors. As I understand it, the Liberals and other leftist parties are in a snit because the conservative governing coalition (which is a cobbled together bare majority) threatened to strip the subsidy for political parties ($1.95 per vote received in the last election) out of the budget. This was a subsidy instituted by Chretien about 5 years ago. Apparently, the Liberals seem to think that they can strip away one or more minor parties from the governing coalition and form a new one as a result of this affront. The Qubecois separatists appear to be leading the charge. Am I on the right track? And is it legal to form a new government without an intervening election? It seems ridiculous to form a new government every time a disagreeable issue comes along.

  • Don S

    “Quebecois” — boy, I can’t spell or type.

  • Bike Bubba

    tODD; look it up on Kos. Unlike their “Bush lied people died,” this time they have a point. He’s backtracking on promises to raise taxes (thank God), backtracking on promises to get us out of Iraq (thank God), and more.

    It was to be predicted as Obama said that he could no more reject Rev. Wright than he could his own grandmother, and then proceeded to reject Rev. Wright when the heat got too intense.

    Again, thank God, but it suggests that Obama’s friendship and promises are rather plastic in his hands, which is a dangerous position for all of us.

  • The Scylding

    Not completely Don. Currently we have a minority goverment, as the Conservatives won in October, but got less than 50% of the votes. Thus the opposition can bring them down in a vote of no confidence. But then they can either form a new, coalition goverment, or face another general election. The final choice lies with the Governor General, her majesty’s representative. I simplify somewhat though – read my recent posts at The Boar’s Head Tavern to get slightly more accurate version. Anyway, it is certainly a change from normal “boring” Canadian politics.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Scylding, some are watching and alarmed at the prospect of a leftist Quebecois government to the north. Obama to the South and these leftists to the north would make bad company.

  • tODD

    Bubba, you accused (@9) Obama of “hypocrisy”. You accused (@12) him of “promis[ing] one thing and deliver[ing] another?”, asking, “Is that not a lie?” and further going on to claim that “Obama is one who lies for political gain.”

    I asked (@13) you for specifics on this, to which your response was “look it up on Kos”, without ever referring to an article or providing a link. But I’m not interested in what the people on Kos think, and neither are you, except in that they agree with you this time. I want to know why you’re calling him a liar.

    Your would-be supporting claims that Obama is “backtracking on promises to raise taxes” and “backtracking on promises to get us out of Iraq” are, of course, ridiculous. Even the article Veith links to notes that Obama “still pledges to wind down the war in Iraq.” But you seem to be missing the point that Obama is not in office yet, and thus is logically unable to “backtrack” on promises of what he would do when in office.

    Again, back up your defaming claims, if you can. Until such time as you do, I will maintain that you are not showing political discernment, but merely demonstrating that you loathe the man and are biased against him. Congratulations on that, but I hope you’ll understand if I’m not impressed with your quick judgmentalism.

  • Don S

    The Scylding @ 18: Thank you for clarifying. It is certainly interesting to watch.

  • Don S

    Bubba and tODD:

    I’m not taking sides in your discussion, but it does seem early to know whether or not Obama was “lying” during the campaign. Bubba, backtracking on tax increases at the outset of your administration because of an economic recession which seems to be at this point the worst since 1981-82, and may get worse, doesn’t constitute a lie. It is a pragmatic nod to the fact that this economy in its current state will not support tax increases, and, more pointedly, to try to impose them now would be political suicide. We need to let his administration unfold and evaluate his campaign promises over time. Of course, I recognize that the lefties were not so patient or understanding before they determined Bush’s presidency to be the greatest failure ever, and he the most despicable president ever, but we don’t need to go there.

    Of course, apparently, the far left is still at it, now with Obama. If they don’t get their way, precisely and on their timetable, they are a cranky lot.

    I guess, overall, I am still of the opinion that, unfortunately, Obama will fulfill, or at least try to fulfill, during the course of his administration, most, if not all, of the “promises” he made during the campaign. He will have no choice. Pelosi and Reid will keep sending him plenty of horrific legislation, and he will sign at least most of it.

  • Bike Bubba

    I’m not defaming Obama. Obama’s handling that one just fine, tODD, and it’s not my fault that you and too many others didn’t figure out what was going on prior to election day.

    He’s confidently told the world of several different plans for taxes($250K? $200K? $150K? $75k? for tax hikes, for example), Iraq, his relationships with his Chicago friends, and others. It’s pretty clear that as malleable as the truth is in the hands of most politicians, it is even more so in the capable hands of Senator Obama.

    I would tend to agree with Don’s explanation if it were not for one thing; Obama pretty much campaigned on the assumption that things would be this bad, and that he had the “change” and “hope” that was necessary to remedy the situation. So while he’s to be commended for bowing to reality for now, it’s also 100% honest to point out that this is a massive bait & switch.