Time Writer Angrily Lectures Leftist 'Netroots' Who Won't Support Obama

June 22nd, 2011 3:35 PM

Time writer Michael Grunwald unloaded on leftists on the Swampland blog on Tuesday -- for not being supportive enough of Barack Obama. The post was titled: "Earth to the Left: Obama Is Into You."

Grunwald was furious that the "disillusionment addicts of the left" would suggest abandoning the Democrat ship. He began with gays-in-the-military activist Dan Choi, who was handed an Obama flyer and "Choi dramatically ripped up the flyer and declared that he wouldn't support Obama."

And why should he? What has Obama ever done to help gays serve openly in the military? Other than repeal don't-ask-don't-tell, so that gays can serve openly in the military? Ah, "the professional left," never happy unless it's unhappy.

When White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tried to explain during a later panel that Obama is the most progressive president ever on gay rights, the Daily Kos blogger who was moderating cut him off: "That's a pretty low bar."

With friends like these, who needs Republicans? If the primary theme of the Obama era is the insanity of the right --attacking government-run health care and Medicare cuts simultaneously, demanding deficit reduction through deficit-busting tax cuts, denying climate science -- the secondary theme is the ingratitude of the left. And the latter infuriates the White House far more than the former, the way a rebellious teenage son causes far more angst than a crazy old neighbor.

It's true that President Obama is not as liberal as some Daily Kos bloggers would like him to be. (Although he has blogged at Daily Kos.)  He continued some of President Bush's national security policies. (Although he did end the war in Iraq.) He ignored left-wing calls to nationalize troubled banks. (Which turned out to be the right call.) He's pushed for middle-class tax cuts and public-employee wage freezes that his base dislikes, and he's outsourced most of the Republican-bashing that his base craves. (Which may be why he's way more popular than his party.)

None of this should have been a surprise; in The Audacity of Hope, he made it clear that he's a market-oriented, consensus-seeking pragmatist, and he repeatedly criticized knee-jerk paleoliberals who don't appreciate the dynamism of capitalism or the limits of government.

Somehow, though, the disillusionment addicts of the left have concocted a narrative of Obama-as-sellout that bears little resemblance to his actual presidency. Democratic infighting is usually described as a "circular firing squad," but this is more like soldiers fragging their commander in battle because he isn't screaming loud enough.

Grunwald was mad about the left's demands on socializing medicine through a "public option" that eschews private insurance companies:

Earth to the left: He didn’t have the votes for a public option. There was nothing he could have said or done to get the votes for a public option. He’s a politician, not a magician.

Then Obama didn’t fight hard enough for cap-and-trade, because he didn’t care about climate change. Or maybe, just maybe, because once again he didn’t have the votes. After all, his stimulus included an unheard-of $90 billion for clean energy, including record spending on efficiency, renewables, advanced biorefineries, electric vehicles, the smart grid, and factories to build all that green stuff in the U.S.

But when you’re convinced the president just isn’t that into you, the facts are irrelevant.