Obama’s faltering base

This is strictly anecdotal, but judging from the mood at Firedoglake, Obama should be extremely worried about his left flank. Last night I hosted a book salon for Bill Press at Firedoglake. Press is the author of THE OBAMA HATE MACHINE and of course he is a familiar liberal TV personality. Of the 321 comments, I would say maybe five of them were friendly. In fact, I’d venture to say that the two of us might have gotten a better reception at Michelle Malkin’s website or The Blaze. In a nutshell, the consensus was that Obama is a corporatist warmonger and tyrant who is much worse than Romney in almost every respect, and that Bill Press and even me are his bought-and-paid-for apologists.

The demonization–or rather, the personalization–of the criticism was no less intense in this venue than it would have been on Breitbart. Obama is bad, bad, bad. He is not “ineffectual”–he is duplicitous and wicked. I’m not sure who the third party candidate is that these people are going to vote for, but he or she has a lock on their votes.

Like I said, this is just anecdotal. People who comment on websites, whether from the left or right, are pretty much by definition fired up. Some of them imagine that they are conducting a negotiation–that by threatening to withhold their vote (or actually doing it) they are exercising influence, either to move the administration to the left or to insure that a wiser candidate in the future will pay greater deference to the progressive agenda.

But as someone who is disappointed with Obama (who isn’t?) but horrified by the GOP, I found the experience to be very scary and unsettling.

PS I knew that Jane Hamsher, FDL’s publisher and founder, was no fan of Obama, of course, and I knew that there was a lot of Obama-animus on the site. I hadn’t realized that it was as widespread as it seemed to be last night, but now that I’ve spent a few hours reading other book salons and comments on other blogs, I know better. There’s even a coinage to describe the phenomenon, that made it into the Urban Dictionary:


A term of derision used (usually on blogs) by supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama in arguments with people who criticize Obama and other Democrats from the political left. The term is a conflation of “Teabagger” the term of derision used to describe right wing Tea Party activists and Firedoglake, a left-leaning political blogging community founded by Jane Hamsher.

Those firebaggers would rather kill the entire health care reform package than compromise on the public option. They’re worse than Republicans!

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9 thoughts on “Obama’s faltering base

  1. Exactly! It is not like we have a viable other choice. I ran into someone like that recently-lifelong Democrat furious at Obama and voting for Romney. It defies any logic whatsoever. We are not going to get rid of the corporations or their influence -to think that is likely is delusional. However -I think we can bring these entities into a higher level of regulation and accountability, In my estimation-what has occured is largely due to massive deregulation. That could be remedied and I think raising corporate taxes 3 or 4 per cent is not unrealistic.

  2. I wonder a lot about why people on the left so dislike Obama. Other than not close Guantanamo, what has he not done that he said he would do? The two wars are ending, health care is coming, civil rights improving. Unemployment is a tough one but it was worse. The markets are up (improving economy). If he is so beholden to corporations, why is Romney the one getting their donations? Has he really lost his base? Yes, Obama is taking in less money than Romney (because all the big money people are giving it to Romney, hmmm) but the number of people giving to Obama is actually up–it is just they are people who have less to give.

    I think the great mis-read on Obama is that many supporters followed the conservative line that he was radical, that he was too far to the left, and they liked that. So they voted for him. Then, discovering he was the moderate he always said he was, they became disenchanted. I too would like to see a more left Obama but I’m realistic enough to know that the guy I voted for is a lot better than his right wing, flip-flopping opponent. A vote for Romney is a vote for change, but that change won’t make many working and middle class people any happy. Their lives will be measurably worse. All because Obama is too moderate. What do they think they will get from Romney? Health care? Better government? Greater civil rights? A commitment to social justice? To fairness in business? Boggles the mind to think a Romney presidency would be an improvement except for the 1%.

    1. Well, he said he’d end the “Bush tax cuts” in his first term–didn’t happen, not even for the uber rich. He said he’d make a public option, that’s gone too. He has continued W’s executive power grabs and made some worse, such as the drone program and kill lists where we are told that people on the kill list (including Americans!) deserve “due process” but not judicial process. I guess our Constitutional scholar President forgot about the separation of powers upon which our country was founded.

      I’ve voted Democrat all my life, but this year, I’m not voting for a D or (God forbid) an R. I live in a Red state, so there’s no reason to vote for a Democrat anyway. My vote for President doesn’t count in the electoral college. If I can’t find anyone left of Obama on the ballot, I’ll just vote for myself. Why should I or anyone else lend a vote to a party and leader that has been so disappointing if my vote is worth nothing? There is a way to send a message, and that’s not vote for either major party, _especially_ if you live in most states where the results are practically pre-determined, and the winner takes all the electoral college votes.

  3. I’ve been a regular reader of Firedoglake for a long time and generally agree with the political slant there, but what you’re describing sounds like a case of amplification through positive feedback. It’s a problem of being surrounded by like-minded people who encourage each other and push each other to ever more extreme rhetoric and come to view slightly differing opinions as intrusions from outside. It’s not at all a matter of political affiliation: if you only listen to an echo chamber amplifying your own thoughts, it doesn’t matter if you’re an Occupier or a Tea Partier. Nor should centrists feel too smug about this with their “a curse on both your houses” rhetoric — the whole point is, ANY group can become insular and hostile to disagreement when they spend too much time listening only to themselves.

    1. I generally agree with the political slant there too, which is why I was so taken aback. The right wing echo chamber is one that I’m very familiar with; the left wing echo chamber much less so. If there’s one thing about this political environment that’s undeniable, it’s that a lofty neutrality is a luxury that we simply can’t afford.

      1. If there’s one thing about this political environment that’s undeniable is that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

        Who will you vote for in 2012?

        The criminal rich candidate (Romney) or the tool of the criminal rich candidate (Obama)?

  4. Mark Statman’s assessment is simplistic and foolish. The war in Afghanistan is not “ending”; Obama has committed the troops through at least 2014 and wants them there longer than that. He also fought tooth and nail against removing the troops from Iraq, as necessitated by the State of Forces Agreement signed by President BUSH at the end of 2007. (And thousands and thousands of U.S. troops remain as “embassy guards” and so on.)

    He’s also expanded drone warfare into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and probably Syria soon. He sent warplanes to bomb the people of Libya so that the oil companies could overthrow a successful socialist regime (and rather than even allow Muammar Kaddafi the farcical show trial that Saddam Hussein was given, he had him butchered under a flag of truce while Hillary Clinton gloated about Kaddafi being murdered, including his anal rape with a knife). When Bush was President, Obama claimed to be against *spying* on Americans; now he *assassinates* Americans like the al-Awlakis (including 16-year-old Abdulrahman, who was born in Denver), Samir Khan, and whoever the lucky soul that’s currently on his “hit list” is. (The New York Times article on “Terror Tuesdays” said Obama’s subjects of “deep consideration” [which substitutes for “due process of law”, according to AG Holder…so glad we have “Democrats” protecting our civil liberties, aren’t you?] include “an American citizen”.)

    He gave the banks everything they wanted, but wouldn’t lift a finger to help homeowners. His “healthcare” bill is the Heritage Foundation-written Permanent Welfare for Insurance Companies Plan that Bob Dole pushed in opposition to the Clinton bill in 1994, which even the Corporate Clintons thought was too big of a giveaway to the insurance industry. He keeps extending the Bush tax giveaways to the billionaires, and anyone who thinks he’ll let them expire this December is the textbook definition of “f—ing ret–ded”, as Rahm Emanuel so nicely called the President’s leftist critics a couple years ago.

    His “falling” unemployment numbers have been achieved by redefining 9.000.000 Americans out of the “eligible” workforce. (See Daniel Amerman’s in-depth coverage of this.) Under the methods used to assess unemployment during the Great Depression, the unemployment rate is 19.9%. What has Obama done about this? Institute a jobs program, as FDR did? Heavens to betsy, never! Instead, he’s worked for years on a “grand bargain” to gut Medicare and Social Security (oh, I’m sorry, “reform” them) that only wasn’t passed last year because John Boehner wouldn’t even give Obama a fig leaf of defense cuts to go along with it. If not for Boehner, the retirement age would have already gone up and benefits would already be cut.

    Why on Earth would any sane person vote for this man? The Republicans are “worse”? Well, even if that’s true (personally, I’m not aware of Mitt Romney having murdered any American citizens…), so what?

    My vote won’t decide the election. No single vote does. All I can do is vote my conscience and thus advocate for the type of government I want. And Obama (whom any objective analysis agrees is considerably to the right of Richard Nixon, and possibly even the right of Obama’s hero, Reagan) is very, very far from that.

    Stewart Alexander for President! (No, he won’t win. But I prefer to actually vote for what I want, rather than delude myself I’m the One Vote that decides, or need the psychological balm of being on the “winning” team.)

    PS-we would be better off under Romney, anyway. Lots of the things Obama gets away with (job-killing “free trade” deals, drilling for oil everywhere and helping BP cover up the oil spill [as the independent Congressional Commission found], torturing Bradley Manning) would be vociferously opposed if a Repub was in the White House, rather than acquiesced to by Democratic “loyalists”. Certainly Romney will never be able to slash Medicare/SS the way Obama has advocated even before he was sworn in. (Washington Post interview, 1/16/09)

    PPS-contrary to Mr. Statman’s assertion, it is Obama, not Romney, who is Wall Street’s favored son. (Why would he not be?) Obama has raised more money from Bain Capital employees than Bain Capital founder Romney, for example.

  5. Ummm. As a long-time lurker at FDL, I am wondering if you are actually connected with reality. I have been reading for a long time and have never seen the screenname “rabensam” before. Of course, could be that ‘rabensam’ has a different name there. Fine, and totally understandable.

    But, I am wondering that you find FDL an ‘echo chamber’.

    What comment, or set/series of comments, caused you to conclude that FDL was an ‘echo chamber’?

    As for myself, I find that I cannot vote for anyone who thinks that assassinating US citizens (or *anyone!*) without due process — and that means at trial by a jury of ones peers, not a PowerPoint presentation. Right now, in 2012, a vote for Obama would make me an accessory to murder. And sorry, I just can’t do that.

    This is what ‘holding his feet to the fire’ looks like. Don’t like it? You brung it up, don’t whine!

  6. The people who loved Bush and hate Obama still hate Obama – even though he’s continuing the things Bush did. And the people who love Obama and hated Bush still hate Bush – even though he started what Obama’s still doing….

    When are you people gonna’ figure it out? Both parties – and their POTUS candidates – and SCOTUS, and the heavy chairs in Congress, and the governors and leading pols of the states with the most electoral votes… are all owned by big daddy.

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