Why has the Democratic-left base turned off on the Dems and Obama?

Michael Barone’s answer returns us to the dominant Democratic reality of the last ten years, which we may have forgotten over the last two years because of the left’s relative calmness following the election of Obama:

Sheer insanity.

Or, if you prefer, sheer Bush hatred.

Or, if you prefer, sheer anti-Americanism.

Barone writes:

So why are Democrats less enthusiastic? And why has “the progressive donor base,” as Democratic consultant Jim Jordans reports, “stopped writing checks”?

I don’t think it’s just because the economy remains sour or that President Obama failed to jam a public option in the health care bill….

For it is not economics but foreign policy that has motivated the left half of the Democratic Party over the last decade … [Obama] has left these Democrats disappointed.

They hoped to see an abject and abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within weeks of the Obama inauguration. They hoped to see a beginning of withdrawal from Afghanistan not in July 2011 but in the early months of 2009. They hoped to see the detention facility at Guantanamo closed and shuttered and the detainees tried in civilian courts or freed to regale the media with tales of torture.

The uncomfortable truth is that many—not most, but many—Democratic politicians and Democratic voters saw political benefit in an American defeat in Iraq. Many, including Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, then boss of Obama’s new chief of staff Pete Rouse, thronged to the Washington premiere of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” They tried to give every appearance of agreeing with the “Bush-lied-people-died” crowd and with those who charged that high-ranking officials colluded in systematic torture.

It was a lot of fun while it lasted, up to election night 2008 and Inauguration Day 2009. But then Obama had to govern. Knowing little of military affairs, he retained Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has loyally served presidents of both parties. Understanding even if not admitting the great headway Americans had made in Iraq, Obama declined to throw it all away.

Appreciating that Afghanistan was critical to protecting Americans, he made a commitment to increase troop levels there in May 2009, reconsidered it from August to November, then restated it Dec. 1, with a commitment to begin withdrawals in July 2011.

In so doing, Obama implicitly confessed that the view of the world held with quasi-religious fervor by the Democratic left was delusional all along. Bush didn’t lie, we didn’t go into Afghanistan and Iraq without allies and against their wishes, we didn’t carry out policies of torture, etc. The effort to cast Iraq as another Vietnam and America under Bush as an oppressive rogue power were perhaps emotionally satisfying but unconnected to reality.

John at Powerline continues:

But, as [Barone] says, many Democratic donors and voters are more committed to their leftist fantasies than to reality, so “[t]hey’re keeping their ears plugged up and their eyes defiantly shut. Their MyObama Web pages are inactive and their checkbooks are closed.” And that is a very good thing.

And, by the way, Barone’s explanation would make sense of Holder/Obama’s bizarre delay in making a final decision on the location of the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial for the last 11 months. Despite the public’s adamant opposition to having the trial in New York or in any U.S. city, Holder has not been able to say definitively that the trial would be held by a military commission in Guantanamo, because that would trigger the left’s decisive break with the administration.

- end of initial entry -

Jim C. writes:

Barone may be correct in his analysis from a rational perspective—but he’s dead wrong, because as we all know the left is motivated by image. The left turned against Barry Obama because they thought Barry was cool and brilliant—that’s what turned on the Hollywood types and Chris Matthews.So it’s deliciously amusing for me to watch my lefty friends distance themselves from their Barry salute last election. They have come to the same conclusion as the right about Obama: he’s not cool, and he’s not very bright.In fact, he’s an affirmative action embarrassment.

LA replies:

That’s an interesting angle. I don’t know right off if I agree or not. But for the moment I’ll just say this. Everyone, including me, tends to look at things through the lens of the subject(s) that they care most about. When it comes to Obama, Jim’s focus has always been on what he sees as Obama’s lack of intelligence. So when the topic becomes why leftists have cooled on Obama, Jim assumes that the leftists have a negative view of Obama for the same reason that Jim does.

Which, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that Jim’s theory is wrong.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 06, 2010 02:52 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):