The cauldrons are bubbling and girgling at Lefty sites such as Salon. Guess who is being warmed up for supper:
“Everyone knows that progressives have been growing increasingly disillusioned with Barack Obama since, well … even before he took office. He’s compromised too much, fought too little, sold out on one big issue after another, and fallen horribly, tragically short of the transformational goals that defined his 2008 campaign.
And now that he’s gone and cut a deal with Mitch McConnell (of all people!) to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for the wealthiest Americans for the next two years (at least), the left’s anger is louder than ever. No wonder Time’s Mark Halperin says the president’s base is “shattered.” And no wonder the media is filled with speculation about a potential challenge to the president in the 2012 Democratic primaries. Really, has there ever been a president who’s succeeded so thoroughly in taking the very people who put him in office and turning them against him?
It’s a fun topic for cable news and the blogosphere, where liberal commentators and activists routinely brand the president a Judas and threaten to support a primary challenger in 2012. And it’s a fun topic in the “mainstream media,” which takes all of this racket as confirmation that Obama is rapidly losing — or has already lost — his base.
There’s just one problem: The premise on which all of this is based is totally and completely wrong. Liberal commentators and activists and interest group leaders may be seething over Obama, but their rage has not trickled down to the Democratic voters (and, in particular, the Democratic voters who identify themselves as liberals), even though they’ve been venting their grief for the better part of two years.
As I noted earlier this week, Obama’s approval rating among Democrats has held steady at or near the 80 percent level throughout all of the turmoil of 2010. This puts him in as strong a position with his own party’s voters as any modern president has been at this same point in his presidency (with the exception of George W. Bush, whose numbers remained unusually high for well over a year after 9/11). Look closer and you’ll also find that Obama’s approval rating among Democrats is actually highest among those who call themselves liberals — an 83 percent score in the most recent round of Gallup polling, completed a few days ago. Among moderate Democrats, he clocks in at 75 percent, and among conservative Democrats, 69 percent. Again, these numbers have more or less held steady all year. To the extent Obama has a serious problem with Democrats, then, it’s with those who are on the right, not the left. This is hardly what you’d expect for a president who, according to the dominant narrative, has spent his presidency poking a stick in the left’s eye by cutting deals with conservative Democrats and Republicans.
Obama, in other words, seems to have developed his own silent majority. Rank-and-file liberal Democrats may not agree with everything he has done, but they do not share the sense of abandonment and betrayal that has defined liberal commentary throughout so much of his presidency. The party’s liberal base still very much likes him; it’s the elites who have turned on him.
The biggest reason for this disconnect, I would suggest, is that the liberal Democratic base liked Obama, both personally and ideologically, from the very beginning. Virtually from the moment he electrified the 2004 Democratic convention, liberals latched on to him as one of their own — and they haven’t (and don’t want to) let go.
This is not an unheard of phenomenon in politics, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve been so keen on comparing Obama’s political appeal to that of Ronald Reagan. Rank-and-file conservatives felt as strongly about Reagan in the 1980 campaign (and in 1976, for that matter) as liberals did about Obama in 2008. And they stayed true to him even when conservative elites concluded two years into his term that Reagan was a sellout.
Indeed, in the wake of this week’s drama over the Bush tax cuts, it’s worth recalling a similar moment in Reagan’s presidency, when congressional Democrats forced him into a tax hike in the summer of 1982. Like Obama now, Reagan had no leverage: The economy was spiraling out of control, voters were abandoning him, and Democrats were having great success (or seeming to have great success) hammering him over the exploding deficit. Thus did Reagan agree to a tax hike package that increased revenues by nearly $100 billion over the next three years — the largest tax increase in history, right-wing activists and commentators screamed. To these conservative elites, it was simply the latest act of betrayal by their one-time hero. When the GOP was drubbed in that fall’s midterms, they claimed vindication (see — not conservative enough!) and talked openly of challenging Reagan in the 1984 primaries. But rank-and-file conservative voters didn’t listen. They still liked the Gipper, still thought he was one of them, and still backed him in polling. It’s the same story today for Obama with rank-and-file liberals.
If Obama had been introduced to the Democratic base differently — that is, if they’d been suspicious and resistant to him and he’d landed in the presidency in spite of their skepticism — the objections of liberal elites might be far more damaging.
Here a parallel can be drawn to George H.W. Bush, who was introduced to the GOP’s “New Right” base in 1980 as the moderate, Gerald Ford-ish establishment Republican running against Reagan. Thus, the New Right, which essentially took control of the GOP for good with Reagan’s ’80 triumph, never really trusted Bush. Eight years of loyal service as Reagan’s V.P. was enough to win Bush the right’s benefit of the doubt in 1988, but when he “caved” as president — as he did on the S&L bailout, the 1990 tax hike, and a host of other issues — it merely brought back to the surface all of the right’s old attitudes toward him. So when the triumph of the Gulf War faded in 1991, there was room for Pat Buchanan to run to Bush’s right in the 1992 primaries. Buchanan didn’t win any states, but he did secure enough support — especially in New Hampshire — to severely embarrass the president. Obama’s history with liberals, though, is much different from Bush’s history with conservatives.
This isn’t to say that it’s impossible for Obama to lose the Democratic base; it’s just that there’s a lot more goodwill toward him among that base — and a lot more willingness to rationalize his “betrayals” as sensible pragmatism in the face of the other party’s obstructionism — than most people recognize.
At his press conference Tuesday, Obama noted that many of the “purist” liberals now blasting his tax cut deal also savaged his final healthcare compromise earlier this year, which wiped out the public option. It’s an apt comparison. And it’s worth remembering that the cries of betrayal back then did nothing to lessen rank-and-file’s assessment of Obama’s job performance — probably because the main thing they saw was that Obama, unlike every president before him, had actually gotten healthcare done.
- Steve Kornacki is Salon’s news editor.
Ron Paul makes John Hinderaker at Powerline cringe, if my feel is right from the following article about the libertarian House Representative from Texas. He must have followed this squeaky box make noise at the stagings of Republican presidential candidates in 2008. At best he was a misfit.
John Hinderaker writes: “Attentive readers may have noticed that I am no admirer of Ron Paul. In fact, I once dubbed him the Pee-Wee Herman of the Republican Party. Paul illustrates, in my view, the dark side of libertarianism. The Achilles heel of Paul’s brand of libertarianism is foreign policy. You could describe him as an isolationist, but I think he is worse than that: during the Bush administration, his antiwar rhetoric took on a vicious quality.
Today Paul showed once again why he is outside of the conservative mainstream. The House of Representatives voted 402-1 to congratulate Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo on her Nobel peace prize. The one Congressman who voted No was Ron Paul.
Was the vote purely symbolic? Of course; which makes Paul’s No vote even worse. For an American politician not to favor freedom and democracy abroad, even in principle, is simply perverse.”
Mr. Hinderaker is rather severe in using his PeeWee Herman description, I believe. I don’t think Mr. Paul has been arrested for anything, yet. And, although he often sings a loony tune, and so cannot be trusted, no doubt about that, he usually does votes with the good guys.
I do believe he acts like a creepy nut, however. Let’s call him the House ‘pekingese’ for his yappy nature. He demonstrated his specialties while on parade with the Republican candidates for the presidency in 2008. Can you imagine anyone as abrasive as Mr. Paul for any presidency of any kind anywhere…..oops, I forgot HarryReid, but even the nore foolish Senator from Nevada isn’t quite as yappy.
Part of the New York Opinion Page is occupied by Maureen Dowd. Maueen Dowd these days is occupied by Sarah Palin. In today’s episode Ms. Maureen is concerned about caribou 600 miles into the Arctic in Alaska and Sarah Palin’s trigger finger.
Maureen writes that Sarah Palin’s trigger finger is proof she is too primitive to be president. Some Americans who viewed viewed videos of Barack Obama’s father figure, preacher, Jeremiah “Goddamn America, Wright, thought the videos were proof Mr. Obama was too primitive to be president. Moreover he was fascinated by Marxism. Yet, he’s president.
Personally, I think Sarah Palin is wonderfully ideal American, bright, quick, proud of her heritage, charming, capable on many social and political fronts, but I, too, don’t see her as a president. Yet she possesses many more qualifications for the presidency than the deeply flawed, Marxist, Barack Hussein Obama. Top educators used to radiate about the solidly adjusted Sarah Palins of the nation for being so well rounded. Obama is one dimensional and would score in the negatives by their scales.
In her New York Times article, “Pass the Caribou Stew,” Ms. Maureen also writes:
“Palin’s father advises her to warm up her trigger finger. And trigger-happy Sarah represents the Republicans, who have spent two years taking shots at the president, including potshots, and tormenting him in an effort to bring him down.
The Republicans think they have hurt their quarry on the tax-cut deal, making him look weak and at odds with his party. There’s an argument to be made for what the president did, but he doesn’t look good doing it.
When all the Democrats are complaining and all the Republicans are happy, it just can’t be a good deal for Democrats.
Obama gave up on a big principle, and Democrats showed — again — they can’t win the message war. Republicans proved that, while they don’t have the House (for now), the Senate or the White House, they’re still running things.
Obama used to play poker in the Illinois Legislature, but it’s hard to believe. First, he cried uncle to Republicans standing in the corner, holding their breath and turning blue. Then, in his White House press conference, he was defensive, a martyr for the middle class.
He said he must compromise at times as he follows “a North Star.” It was odd, given that Palin uses North Star as a code name, her own “city on the hill” reference, and an allusion to God.”
Comment: Notice what a spell this Palin woman has over people….proves me right!
“The president said he couldn’t stick to his guns, even though most Americans agreed with him, because Republicans feel that this is their holy grail: “the single most important thing that they have to fight for as a party.” But isn’t helping those in need rather than gilding the rich a holy grail for Democrats? Does he think for a second that the Republicans will relent and be more reasonable in two years? If he believes he can go out in 2012 and attack the Republicans when the political stakes are much higher, why couldn’t he do it now?”
Comment: What do you think she means bringing in the guns the president couldn’t stick to? What is the “this” that is determining the Republican holy grail? Perhaps Obama is worried about his re-election chances in 2012 and decided he couldn’t do “it” now. (How dare he.)
“It’s not that hard to explain to Americans in distress that the protection of vast fortunes should not be the priority of government.”
Further comment: This Ms. Maureen Dowd is a profoundly deep thinker about American issues, don’t you think. Look for her columns in the New York Times comic section.
“A people’s Art reveals a people’s Culture”……an age old truism.
People who know Dennis Prager are aware of his interest and broad taste in music. Dennis wrote the following column about the contemporary American music recording industry titled: “F- – - you” at his website at Townhall.com:
”The nominees to receive the most prestigious awards in the music industry, the Grammy Awards, were just announced. Among the five nominees for Record of the Year is a song titled “F— You,” with the F-word, of course, spelled out and pronounced.
Here are the song’s opening lyrics:
“I see you driving ’round town
With the girl I love and I’m like,
Oo, oo, ooo
I guess the change in my pocket
Wasn’t enough, I’m like,
And f— her, too!”
The next lyrics add the S-word:
“I said, if I was richer, I’d still be with ya
Ha, now ain’t that some s–t? (ain’t that some s–t?)
And although there’s pain in my chest
I still wish you the best with a
Oo, oo, ooo.”
And shortly thereafter, the N-word:
“I pity the fool that falls in love with you
(oh, s–t, she’s a gold digger)
(just thought you should know, n—-)
It is also worth noting that the video of this song includes children who appear to be under 12 years of age and all the performers are black — a point I will address later.
I have long believed that MTV has done more damage to America’s young people than any other single institution. I am referring to the music videos, in which most images or scenes are shown for less than two seconds and thereby numb kids’ minds, and to the sexual imagery and sex talk that permeate the music videos and much of the rest of MTV programming.
But while MTV should be singled out for the damage it has done to America, the music industry in general has been equally guilty.
How does a song replete with expletives, whose very title is “F— You,” get nominated for a Grammy Award as Record of the Year?
The answer is that the music industry, from producers to artists, is largely populated by people who regard social and cultural norms as stifling. Their professional lives are dedicated to lowering that which is elevated, destroying that which uplifts, and to profaning that which is held sacred.
There is no better explanation for “F— You” being nominated as Record of the Year. It has little, if any, redeeming moral, social or artistic (to the extent that this word retains its original meaning) value. The lyrics are as vapid as they are obscene; the video further degrades that part of black life that is already too lacking in elevation; and there is the participation of children in a profanity-filled video.
For most of American history, a child who used such words was punished by his parents, and society instinctively knew how important it was not to expose children to obscenities. Today, adults in the music industry reward children for participating in videos laced with obscenities.
Nor is the nomination of “F— You” as Song of the Year an aberration. Two of the other four nominees are rap “songs” whose lyrics are also vile.
Here are typical lyrics from the Eminem’s nominated “Love the Way You Lie:”
“And I love it the more that I suffer
And right before I’m about to drown
She resuscitates me
She f—ing hates me
And I love it.”
And later on:
“If she ever tries to f—ing leave again
I’ma tie her to the bed
And set the house on fire.”
The third nominee is an ode to New York City, “Empire State of Mind,” performed by black rapper Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, and which also contains the N-word. It is worth recalling that when white radio-show host Laura Schlessinger used this word solely in order to condemn its use in inner-city black life, society’s elite poured such wrath on her that it forced many of her sponsors to abandon her, and she decided to leave radio. But when Jay-Z uses it, he is rewarded with the nomination for the highest award in the music industry.
Two examples of the N-word use:
“Say what’s up to Ty-Ty, still sippin’ mai tais
sittin’ courtside, Knicks and Nets give me high five
N—-, I be Spike’d out, I could trip a referee
Tell by my attitude that I’m most definitely from. …
You should know I bleed blue, but I ain’t a Crip, though
but I got a gang of niggas walkin’ with my clique though. . . .”
For the record, the fourth nominee, B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You,” is another rap song with something of a melody behind it. This song has a decent message of a young black man who, though tempted by other women, only wants his woman. And the fifth nominee was a lovely song, “Need You Now,” by the country music group Lady Antebellum.
How deep is the decay in the music industry?
According to the Los Angeles Times, these Grammy nominees were “decided on by about 12,000 voting members of the Recording Industry.”
Comment: The depth of the decay in the music industry is equal to the depth of the decay in America’s broader culture.