Albert R. Hunt has a fascinating piece up at Bloomberg. The lede is that Obama transcends ideology by pissing off both sides and then he goes through a list of issues on which Obama is blasted from the right and left with equal vehemence. Here's a particularly cogent example:
On national security, the neo-conservatives depict the president as a dangerously naïve, Blame-America-Firster. In his most important decision, he escalated the war in Afghanistan to the consternation of some of his party’s liberals. And Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the administration of President George W. Bush, isn’t turning swords into plowshares but increasing the Pentagon budget while pushing for the military reforms that predecessors such as Donald Rumsfeld avoided.
While he allows that there is valid criticism for the decision, he also recognizes that during the campaign, Obama was consistent in his view that success in Afghanistan was essential and that he didn't get anywhere near calling to scale-down our involvement there. And where he admits that Obama "abandoned the public or government-fund option in the health-care plan, and resisted efforts for a bigger stimulus package," he also admits that it wasn't entirely Obama's decision to make:
Getting the Votes
But the contention that if only he had fought for these measures success would have been likely is dubious. The only way the stimulus package barely squeezed through was with the support of three Senate Republicans who wouldn’t have accepted a larger version. And a health-care bill with a public option would have been doomed in the Senate and the House.
The most compelling point to me, is Hunt's gem of an insight that "ideology isn’t the ideal prism to evaluate the Obama presidency." He's right and that is borne out by recent, i.e., post-HCR, polling. It is also supported by the latest Research 2000 poll on approval ratings, in which Obama climbs to 56% approval.
The Democrats get a big boost out of the week in which they managed to finally pass a comprehensive health care reform package. Everyone except Harry Reid sees gains, and fairly notable ones.
Most of that gain, perhaps unsurprisingly, comes from the base. For example, a key component in the three-point net gain for the Congressional Democrats was a ten-point bump among Democrats, where the favorability among the base rose above 70% for the first time in recent memory.
The enthusiasm gap is closing as I type; that support is solidifying among the party base, not its ideologues. Hunt reminds us of the danger in mistaking the Democratic congressional majority as an indication of ideological majority. Yes, we have a Dem majority, but that includes the likes of Nelson and Baucus and Stupak, et al. The Democratic party is far from an ideological monolith and some Congresscritters hail from decidedly non-liberal quarters, such as the 49 Dem Reps 13 Dem Senators whose districts/states went for McCain in 2008.
That's a potent and necessary reminder about the framework within which Obama must operate, the framework we must help change this November. We absolutely must deliver for Obama and elect the most progressive majorities we can get. It's not just for Obama, though; it's for all of us, future generations, the country. We simply cannot give the reins of power back to the GOP, not this November, nor any other time in the next six years.
Fortunately, an enthusiastic party base makes for lots of GOTV. And it just so happens we have heaps of progressive candidates to get enthusiastic about this fall.
Yes we can, so let's!