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The Netroots Are Rattled

Last week, I argued that the post-election season is “a period of reeducation:”

Clinton’s nomination: What better proof for the Arabs that Obama intends to continue the reviled policies of America? Not Bush’s America-America in general. Surely, American policies will be tweaked and revisited and changed in some areas. But Obama does not intend, nor can he, change American policy in the Middle East in the profound ways his Arab supporters would like him to.

But even earlier, I wrote that Obama’s decision to support Joe Lieberman as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee position was “only the beginning of a long, sometimes devastating re-education of the radical wing of the Democratic Party.”

Today, we have an opportunity to check in with the pupils’ progress. The official blogospheric announcement has been made. Obama, it seems, has a “Netroots Problem:”

Obama won a decisive victory and Democrats picked up seats in the House and the Senate. The GOP will have a very hard time, indeed, mounting a filibuster and they’re not going to be stupid enough (well, probably) to try unless the Democrats push something that can be painted as radical.

That leaves the left wing of Obama’s own party. They’ve been out in the cold for the eight years of the Bush administration and, one could argue, much of the Clinton administration since, post-1994 election, he was triangulating against the hard left and hard right in order to bolster his own agenda.

Obama appears exceedingly unlikely to repeat Clinton’s early mistakes. While Clinton came with vastly more governing experience, he never had a fraction of Obama’s discipline. (Or, for that matter, the discipline of a hungry dog let loose in a butcher shop.) Obama’s going to cherry pick policy ideas that he thinks will work and be popular, to the consternation of Republicans and the left wing of his own party alike. To the extent he has a problem, then, it’ll be disaffected progressives who are greatly disappointed.

But, as James Kirchick wrote a couple of days ago, Obama does not fear the netroots:

Good for the Democrats for ignoring these people. Allowed to exercise more influence over the party than they already do, the Netroots would have the same disastrous effect that the presidential nomination of George McGovern did in 1972.

It is good–and not just for the Democrats.



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