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Posted by on Sep 8, 2009 in Politics | 78 comments

Progressives are Killing Obama’s Presidency

The last two elections (2006 and 2008) were a rebuke to a Republican party that was running amok, and utterly without coherence, vision, or leadership. They deserved to be ousted, and their overheated rhetoric and deliberate misstatements about the new administration demonstrate that they are nowhere near ready to return to power; they need far more time in the political wilderness.

I don’t think, though, that the Republicans are going to be out for very long. It’s highly likely, in fact, that they’ll regain enormous ground in 2010 — not because of some newly-found coherence, but because the Democrats are blowing it. And the movement left, aka the “progressives”, own this.

Progressives are, in many ways, the yin to the far right yang. Their views are not mainstream; they’re seen as far to the left. And just like their counterparts on the extreme right, they don’t understand how far away they are from the massive moderate majority in the country.

This amazing disconnect was brought home to me fully this weekend in the aftermath of the Van Jones resignation, when Jane Hamsher wrote at firedoglake:

Now [Van Jones has] been thrown under the bus by the White House for signing his name to a petition expressing something that 35% of all Democrats believed as of 2007 — that George Bush knew in advance about the attacks of 9/11.

To her, evidently, Van Jones’ Trutherism is just normal and perfectly acceptable.

Yet that same poll found that only 22% of all Americans agreed with Mr. Jones. Can’t anybody do subtraction any more? Even a third-grader could look at those numbers and see that the vast majority of America are not “Truthers”. Tellingly, that 22% figure is identical to the percentage that identified itself as “Somewhat Liberal” or “Very Liberal” in a poll just a few days ago.

Folks, when 78% of the country disagrees with you, your views are not representative. Sorry.

The take-away is not that there’s a less-than-stable wing in the Democratic Party; the Republican right wing is just as out-of-step. The problem is that this left edge has an inflated ego and an out-sized sense of power.

Many hard liberals seem to think that they and they alone brought Obama to the presidency. Without them (the thinking goes), he’d never have been elected, and thus, “he owes them”…. and right there is the root of the fear of the Obama presidency springing up around the country.

Most people aren’t afraid of Obama individually. They are, however, extremely worried about a president who’s policies are driven by the hard left of the Democratic Party.

It was America who elected this president. The Democrats (much less their left flank) did not — and still do not — represent the majority of this country’s citizens. The Democrats are in the majority right now because we have an ‘either-or’ political system. There’s no consensus on liberal policy, and there never was.

Obama needs to start twisting some Dem arms of his own, and convince his party (and the country) that he’s his own man. As today’s editorial in the WSJ says:

Mr. Obama is falling in the polls because last year he didn’t tell the American people that the “change” they were asked to believe in included trillions of dollars in new spending, deferring to the most liberal Members of Congress, a government takeover of health care, and appointees with the views of Van Jones.

If Obama does not take up the reins, the result will be toxic. The conservative districts who sent Dems to Congress — who gave them the majority — will likely overcompensate with “representatives” who are very far to the right. The end result will be an impossibly hostile environment that will make the current strife look mild.

President Obama should tell Nancy Pelosi that her “my way or the highway” approach is impossibly divisive. He needs to tell Harry Reid that reconciliation is not an option for legislation in a divided nation. And he needs to definitively untether himself from the movement progressives. They are not representative of America… but Obama should be.

He must be.