This is so typical: Insider Village sentiment is that liberal bloggers are out of touch with political reality.
It never even occurs to them that we might know more about how normal people feel. Greg Sargent comments:
I’m no blog triumphalist, and some of the debate about Weigel was overblown, but the claim about blogospheric indifference to the midterms is just laughably false. The liberal blogs I read have spent months now engaged in deep debate about the midterm elections, the best ways to limit losses, and what the consequence for the progressive agenda will be if Dems don’t figure out how to pull themselves out of their doldrums.
Indeed, amusingly enough, the very argument VandeHarris are criticizing liberal blogs for making — that the White House has remained captive to a Beltway culture that fetishizes bipartisanship and has failed to seize this historical moment’s potential to dramatically expand the boundaries of what’s politically possible — has been central to the liberal bloggers’ debate about this fall’s elections.
It’s one thing to criticize liberal bloggers for having unrealistic expectations, given whatever we’re supposed to agree represents “reality” in Washington. I don’t happen to agree with that argument. Many liberal bloggers are advocates and activists. They are supposed to push the White House and Dems in a more liberal direction, even if it doesn’t always pay off. That’s their function as they’ve defined it. But reasonable people can disagree about how realistic the liberal blogosphere’s expectations have been.
However, to make the argument that liberal bloggers have their heads in the sand about Dem losses this fall is just flat out false. All VandeHarris are revealing is that they don’t regularly read liberal blogs — and that they know they can count on the fact that the Beltway insiders who will snicker knowingly about this article don’t read liberal blogs either. And that’s fine: Don’t read them! But please don’t make stuff up about them and call it journalism.
As for the anonymous White House attack, I’m not biting on that one, and I hope others also refrain from doing so.
A couple unnamed cowards in the article actually get this – “mean person on a blog” matters almost nothing compared to “15 million unemployed.” The White House says they want to “reconnect with voters” on the economy. I’m afraid that’s not possible anymore. They spent over a year touting a too-small stimulus and then “pivoted” back to deficit reduction. They completely botched the popping of the housing bubble and the attendant foreclosure crisis, which hit a record high in the second quarter. HAMP is an executive branch program, so “Obama doesn’t control Congress” doesn’t apply here. (Though it should be noted that maintaining half-decent relations with Congress would probably go a long way toward improving the situation.)
I guess when you’re losing and you can’t admit to yourself the nature of the problem, it’s natural to cast about for a villain. But I’d say two things here. One, Presidents get blamed for recessions in a major way. The state of the economy is all that matters from a political science perspective. And the economy hasn’t improved in the tangible ways it would need to. You can say it’s improved, and make flashy charts and graphs, but ultimately, people know their personal economic situation and will grow more contemptuous of a government that tells them how much better everything’s getting. It’s not just unemployment, it’s that wages are dropping. It’s that inequality is spreading. It’s that the middle class continues to get squeezed. It’s that Wall Street seems to be thriving. That dissonance is driving the negative reaction to the President on every issue.
The second thing is that, to the extent that the “liberal left” is upset at the President, it’s because they are seeing a great opportunity slip away in real time. The only one that told the base that they could change America from the bottom up and bring forth a transformative new era of leadership is Barack Obama. If he didn’t want one, he shouldn’t have said anything. I guess you don’t get elected by opining on “contemporary political realities,” but these roadblocks went up in a flash, from practically the moment after the election. The people who worked for Obama, who knocked on doors and made phone calls and all the rest, got the door slammed in their face on Day One. And now, the people who did the slamming want to know why those guys are so angry all the time.
More than being “shut out” or “dissed,” because I really don’t care, the anger springs from the loss of a political moment. Nobody had a bigger challenge coming into office than Barack Obama but nobody had a bigger opportunity. And liberals like myself are generally peeved that the opportunity has been squandered. Yes, squandered: I know I’m supposed to talk about all the accomplishments and victories and how things would have been much worse if, say, McCain-Palin won. That’s a given and it’s not good enough. That’s not an expression of “immaturity” (man do I hate VanDeHarris), but an honest assessment of the situation.