Diogenes -Tuesday, May 15
If you trace liberals disappointment with Barak Obama to its origins, to try to pinpoint the moment when his zealous supporters realized that this was "Not Change They Could Believe In", the souring probably began in December, 2008, when Obama announced that conservative Evangelical pastor Rick Warren would speak at his inauguration. MSNBC's Ricky Maddow rode the story almost nightly: “I think the problem is getting larger for Barack Obama.” Negative 34 days into the start of the Obama presidency, the honeymoon was over.
Since then, the left's gloom has only deepened, as Obama compromise alternated with Obama failure. Liberals speak of Obama in unceasingly despairing terms. “I’m exhausted from defending you,” one supporter confessed to Obama at a town-hall meeting last year.
Justin Ruben, MoveOn.org executive director, told the Washington Post, "We are all incredibly frustrated and disappointed in Obama". The assessments appear equally judgmental among the most left-wing and the most moderate of Obama’s supporters In early 2004, Democrats, by a 25-point margin, described themselves as “more enthusiastic than usual about voting.” At the beginning of 2008, the margin had shot up to over 60 percentage points. Now as many Democrats say they're less enthusiastic about voting this election.
The cultural enthusiasm sparked by Obama’s candidacy drained away almost immediately after his election. All the passion now lies with the critics, and it is hard to find a liberal willing to muster any stronger support than halfhearted drivel about the tough situation Obama inherited, or vague hope that maybe in a second term he can really start doing things. Obama has already given up on any hope of running a positive reelection campaign and is girding up for a grim slog of a negative campaign, with the full compliance by some Republican haters in the vintage media.
Why are lefties so desperately unhappy with the Obama presidency?
Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic president, dancing-in-the-streets delirious, but not with the real thing.
For almost all of the past 60 years, liberals have been in a near-constant emotional state of despair, punctuated only by brief moments of euphoria and occasional rage. When they're not in charge, things are so bleak they threaten to move to Canada; it’s almost more excruciating when they do win elections, and their presidents fail in essentially the same ways: He is too accommodating, too timid, preaches to the choir but unable to inspire the people. (Except for LBJ, who was a bloodthirsty warmonger.)
Chris Matthews, who famously thrilled to Obama’s inspirational rhetoric, now complains, “Word is out that Obama is a ‘transactional’ politician.” Jon Stewart put it in even more anguished terms, expressing his disappointment that politics itself did not change under Obama: “He ran on this idea that the system and the methodology are corrupt. It felt like the country was upset enough that he had the momentum needed to reevaluate how business is done. Instead, when he got elected, he acted as though the system is so entrenched that it has to be managed.”
The unhappy moderate liberals seem to be the most irritated component of Obama’s let-down supporters. Enraged left-wing bloggers may harbor unrealistic notions of what Democrats could achieve, but they are at least correct that Obama does share their goals. I believe liberal melancholy hangs not so much on substantive objections but on something more emotional:
A general feeling that Obama turned out not to be Their Ronald Reagan.