Now They Need Us
by Deacon Blues
A year ago at this time, the White House was thrashing the "professional left" for being unhappy with Obama over the stimulus, health care reform, and the lack of real change. And less than a year after taking office, this White House was already slapping around liberal activists for not toeing the line. Now, with economic confidence and consumer spending falling back to 2009 levels, unemployment rising, and Democratic strategists sounding alarms over next year, the same (now former) White House staffers are begging for help to bail them out of their mess.
"Democrats should be very nervous," said Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman and senior strategist at Priorities USA, which is raising millions of dollars for the 2012 election. "They need to put on their war paint and get ready for what is going to be a very difficult battle. Unless activists really engage and recognize the stakes of this fight, it’s going to be impossible for the president to win."
I don't have to count the numerous slights and the outright rejections of the progressive base of the party by this White House. Nor do I have to remind anyone of Obama's intentional post-midterm dissing of congressional Democrats in his rush to cut a deal with the GOP to extend the Bush tax cuts, without getting more jobs spending and without a debt ceiling extension. Nor does anyone need any reminders of Obama's acceptance of GOP rhetoric about debt and deficits to the exclusion of any real commitment about jobs for most of 2011, and what such a capitulation has gotten him.
But I think it's a fair question for progressives to ask Mr. Burton and really Mr. Obama as well what exactly can the Democratic base expect from this president in a second term. Each constituency from 2008 feels various levels of disappointment if not betrayal.
And please stop before you start with the "you better work hard for Obama or else you'll get a Republican" threat, because progressives may wonder if its better to dig in and have the long-awaited intraparty reckoning post-2012 while Mitt Romney shows his true colors.
After showing little regard for what the base and real experts on reform have been saying for almost three years, it's an empty plea for Obama supporters to now demand support from those same denigrated critics.