- Current Issue
SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
“Can I speak freely about the liberal whiners?” asks a well-connected Democratic strategist. “These are the same people who have never participated in, much less won, a campaign, who have no idea what it takes to maintain a majority and keep a speaker of our party, who want Obama to kowtow to the loony Left, and then they’re going to be the ones who say, ‘What happened?’ in November 2010, when we lose the House and possibly the Senate and maybe a lot of governorships.”
This was Byron York writing recently in the Washington Examiner, but the same theme pervades the nation’s op-ed pages and other outlets for the bloviating class. NBC’s John Harwood recently reported that administration officials were part of the “Internet Left fringe” and quoted an unnamed White House adviser saying, “Those bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.”
According to these analysts, liberal Democrats are completely out of touch with the rest of the country and are foolishly demanding that Obama implement crazy policies that only they support. Exhibit A here is usually a health care reform bill that includes a public option — which according to a Washington Post poll published today “wins clear majority support from the public.” According to the story, “a slim majority of Americans, 57 percent, would prefer a plan that included some form of government insurance for people who cannot get affordable private coverage even if it had no GOP support in Congress. Thirty-seven percent would rather have a bipartisan plan that did not feature a public option.”
So it’s pretty clear that whatever else it might be, support for a public option, which Obama had previously pledged was an essential component of health care reform, is not something limited to the lunatic fringe. Speaking of which, the Post poll showed that “only 20 percent of adults identify themselves as Republicans, little changed in recent months, but still the lowest single number in Post-ABC polls since 1983.” And it’s worth noting that at this point a sizable chunk of what’s left of York’s GOP believes that god created the world in seven days and that non-Christians will die in the apocalypse, so he might be more careful about tossing around the word “loony.”
By now there are plenty of people disappointed with Obama, including some of his most passionate early supporters. I recently received the following email, which I was asked to edit to disclose the sender’s identity:
I read your blog only semi-frequently for this reason: in that niggling corner of my brain, I deeply suspect you’re right about Obama on the fundamentals. Background: I worked for two years on the Obama campaign. I joined the campaign because I had managed to convince myself, perhaps against better judgment, that Obama’s relative newness to the national stage meant that he was the least conventionally shackled candidate. I still think that’s true: a Clinton presidency would not be nearly what an Obama presidency has been and will be.
My disappointments are pretty meta at this point, as are yours it appears. Policy imperatives flow from the structure that permits them, and Obama has either been forced to or allowed himself to be subsumed by the structure. At least for the time being.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Number of people per sauna in Finland:
Argentine scientists who attached plastic flatulence-gathering backpacks to cows found that the animals emit up to 1,000 liters of flatulence each day.
China debarked the rover Jade Rabbit onto the moon’s Bay of Rainbows.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
Notes on South Africa’s failed revolution
“I will never know what goes on in your mind, or what that shield of a smile behind which we try to advance should tell us.”