Howard Kurtz catalogs the unhappy pundits on the Left. Obama isn’t thrilling them anymore. He’s “selling out his base” and he “lacks leadership.” And, oh my, Frank Rich lets on: “He was never going to be the messiah.” What are they so mad at? He’s spent a boatload of money on domestic goodies, he’s put the Defense Department on a strict diet, he was very happy about a gigantic cap-and-trade regulatory bill, he apologizes for America whenever overseas, he’s done nothing to reduce the number of abortions, and he loves the public option. What more could these people want?
Well, they wanted him to be not just the most liberal president ever but also an effective one. The first they got; the second, not even remotely. It turns out that while Obama might agree with them, the American people do not. Obama isn’t winning the debate, because he’s been unable to convince Americans to think like New York Times columnists.
So the Left is mad — really mad. They accuse him of not leading or of compromising. But perhaps they should be (and really are) mad at the voters and all the congressmen and senators who aren’t going along with Obama’s big-government agenda. The complainers on the Left might consider that it is not that Obama has been insufficiently liberal but excessively so. If they want to get a fraction of what they want and hold the Congress, they might think of a course adjustment. But alas, they seem to be in no mood to compromise.
If Obama is smart, he’ll ignore the whining from the Left and figure out how to recapture the center of the political spectrum. Should he instead choose to spend his time trying to reassure and get back in the good graces of the likes of Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, and Eugene Robinson, he may in a few months look back longingly at the days when his approval rating hovered around 50 percent. There is, after all, much farther he could fall if he chooses to prove his liberal bona fides rather than solve the credibility and ideology gap between himself and the center-right country he is trying to lead.