Commentary Magazine


Will Obama Move Beyond

As I continue to document the left’s unhappiness with President Obama, here’s another example to add to the list — a widely distributed e-mail letter to members from MoveOn organizer Nita Chaudhary that says, in part, this:

Remember Barack Obama in 2008? The guy who refused to go along with a “dumb war” and said, “In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”

I miss that guy. Imagine if someone told you in 2008 that Barack Obama was actually thinking about signing legislation to extend the Bush tax giveaways for the rich. I wouldn’t have believed it.

Now more than ever, we need the Barack Obama we elected in 2008—the smart, tough, hopeful progressive champion who inspired millions of us—to stand up and say “no” to a millionaire bailout.

Right now, with the change we all fought for hanging in the balance, President Obama needs to hear from those of us who supported him the most.

The e-mail goes on to ask MoveOn members to record a video message “from the heart” to tell President Obama to go to the mat to stop any extension of the “millionaire tax giveaways” and to “bring back the progressive fighter we all knew and supported in 2008.”

President Obama cannot win re-election without winning back independents, who fled the Democratic Party in massive numbers in the 2010 election. And Obama cannot win back independents without going crosswise of liberal groups like MoveOn. Unless Obama has a political death wish, then, a divorce with portions of his base eventually has to occur. But boy, is it going to be ugly. And if Obama succeeds in alienating his base without winning back the middle, his presidency will collapse.

These are difficult days for the Obama White House. The road back to political recovery isn’t obvious, and it won’t be easy.