This morning's meme is all about a Politico article that appeared this morning about disinheartened Democrats:
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's recent complaint about the ingratitude of the "professional left" is a small symptom of a larger problem for President Barack Obama: He has left wide swaths of the Democratic Party uncertain of his core beliefs.
In interviews, a variety of political activists, operatives and commentators from across the party's ideological spectrum presented similar descriptions of Obama's predicament: By declining to speak clearly and often about his larger philosophy -- and insisting that his actions are guided not by ideology but a results-oriented "pragmatism" -- he has bred confusion and disappointment among his allies, and left his agenda and motives vulnerable to distortion by his enemies.
The president's reluctance to be a Democratic version of Ronald Reagan, who spoke without apology about his vaulting ideological ambitions, has produced an odd turn of events: Obama has been the most activist domestic president in decades, but the philosophy behind his legislative achievements remains muddy in the eyes of many supporters and skeptics alike.
Which is nonsense, since all I do is hear the man talk about his core philosophy, in every speech, in every video, which means some on the Professional Left haven't been listening!
To which, Greg Sargent wrote (after clarifying ways in which the Politico article was right):
I tend to think this critique is overstated: Obama has passed the most ambitious domestic agenda since FDR, and there are some grounds for believing that the White House got as much as it possibly could have. But my bet is that if the White House hadn't fetishized bipartisanship early on; if Obama had drawn a sharper contrast with the GOP from the outset; and if he had taken a stronger stand on behalf of core priorities even if they were destined for failure, his lefty critics would be more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
That said, presuming Obama's will be a two-term presidency, we are not even one-fourth of the way through his tenure. By the time Obama retires to private life, this whole debate underway about Obama's early failings could ultimately be reduced to a mere asterisk, or even forgotten completely.
And Joe Klein chimed in as well:
But Dems are distressed? He's not populist or ideological enough? Oh please. There are several ways to go about the presidency. Ronald Reagan chose one way: he said one thing and did another. He was for cutting back the size of government, but didn't. He was for lowering taxes and he did, but then he raised taxes--two of the laegest percentage increases in American history--when his supply-side "philosophy" proved a phony. He confronted the Soviet Union, but he also would have agreed to massive reductions in nuclear arsenals if the Soviets had allowed him to pursue his Star Wars fantasy.
Barack Obama has chosen another way.
He has pretty much done what he said he'd do. His achievements are historic. But he hasn't wrapped them up in an ideological bumper sticker--or provided some neat way for the public to understand it, or pretended to be a yeoman simpleton, noshing on pork rinds, clearing brush and excoriating the business community. That is a real political problem. He delivered a stealth tax cut to 95% of the American people; I've never seen a politician cut taxes and not take sufficient credit for it before. He made it impossible for Americans to be denied health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions or chronic problems; somehow this has gotten lost in the "socialist" shuffle as well. He ended major combat operations in Iraq, on time and without much fuss--without using the word "victory" or denying the continuing problems involved in cobbling together a coherent government there. Another President might have hyped this "achievement" relentlessly.