September 27, 2010 by Peter Daou
This post was originally written about the frightening case of Anwar al-Aulaqi, a heinous individual who now faces a judge, jury and executioner in President Barack Obama. The body of the post remains the same, but I wanted to add further context in light of yet another slap at the left by the White House, in this case, VP Biden telling the base to ”œstop whining,” as well as breaking news that Rahm Emanuel is leaving the White House this week.
When Robert Gibbs attacked the professional left he didn’t specify anyone by name, but the assumption was that it was cable personalities, disaffected interest groups, bloggers and online commenters.
With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher. (Jane, who has been a friend for years, has become an increasingly controversial figure and I won’t use this post to litigate the claims for or against her.)
Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power. more
The essence of their critique is that the White House lacks a moral compass. The instances where Obama displays a flash of moral authority ”“ the mosque speech comes to mind ”“ these bloggers cheer him with the same fervor as his most ardent fans.
Some will dismiss them as minor players in the wider national discourse, but two things make them a thorn in the administration’s side:
a) they have a disproportionately large influence on the political debate, with numerous readers and followers ”” among them major media figures
b) they develop the frames and narratives that other progressive Obama critics adopt and disseminate
I’ve argued for some time that the story of Barack Obama’s presidency is the story of how the left turned on him. And it eats him up. You know it from Robert Gibbs, you know it from Rahm Emanuel, you know it from Joe Biden and you know it from Obama himself.
The constant refrain that liberals don’t appreciate the administration’s accomplishments betrays deep frustration. It was a given the right would try to destroy Obama’s presidency. It was a given Republicans would be obstructionists. It was a given the media would run with sensationalist stories. It was a given there would be a natural dip from the euphoric highs of the inauguration. Obama’s team was prepared to ride out the trough(s). But they were not prepared for a determined segment of the left to ignore party and focus on principle, to ignore happy talk and demand accountability.
As president, Obama has done much good and has achieved a number of impressive legislative victories. He is a smart, thoughtful and disciplined man. He has a wonderful family. His staff (many of whom I’ve worked with in past campaigns) are good and decent people trying to improve their country and working tirelessly under extreme stress. But that doesn’t mean progressives should set aside the things they’ve fought for their entire adult life. It doesn’t mean they should stay silent if they think the White House is undermining the progressive cause.
Case in point: the extraordinarily disturbing case of Anwar al-Aulaqi:
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