Not a day goes by that I don't read some diary documenting some failure of the Left and asking - with many exclamation points - how this policy of blaming Obama is working out for you? These diaries usually consist of three things: a list of all Obama's accomplishments, a brief history of all the obstacles facing him, and an inquiry as to whether or not those critical of Obama on the Left would prefer a Republican government.
The first two are insinuations. The third is a threat.
I'll admit, the first two insinuations have never made sense to me. The sheer ferocity with which the Obama supporters have turned on their brethren on the Left is of a level usually reserved for... republicans. And psychologically I can't help but see that as some sort of defense mechanism. It is almost as if some Obama supporters have invested so heavily in Obama that they have invested part of their identity in his success. An attack on Obama becomes almost personal; questioning some of Obama's decisions becomes questioning the high level of commitment and investment they have put into Obama. With Obama being as much a movement as a mere politician that's completely understandable.
But it sure ain't productive. The insinuation that Obama's detractors suddenly forgot all of the obstacles he faced - because what other reason could there be to criticize him? - is just plain insulting. Nor are his detractors unaware of his accomplishments. But the rest of the country is, and it's not because those on the Left didn't clap loud enough. Those running DailyKos spent far too much time proclaiming that Obama was playing 11th Dimensional chess with his endless premature capitulations and driving away supporters with their rigid intolerance in the process. They have become much more open to debate, which I enthusiastically applaud, but it was rough going for a while there.
But the voters don't know about Obama's accomplishments because Obama's not a very good politician, at least not without the enthusiastic support of his base, and particularly the liberal blogosphere, which was his de facto political arm coming into office. It's just bad luck that Obama's most ardent supporters were his most effective political arm, but listening to something so personal to Liberals as Healthcare Reform being described as Death Panels for months on end with barely a peep from the White House tends to frustrate an already exhausted base waiting for their leader to start leading. To bring out all these accomplishments systematically to a public ready for change and a party ready to lead was not rocket science. But there's a global shortage of hand lotion from all the clapping the Left spent the first two years doing and that certainly didn't save the House.
The more contemplative of the Left's supporters have responded to the Obama dissappointments with an admirable serenity I can only describe as Thank You Sir, May I Have Another. If Obama didn't, couldn't or wouldn't deliver we were foolish to have expected him to do so in the first place and cue the List of Obstacles. Sure, those detractors of Obama voted for him precisely because he implied he was up to the challenge of facing those obstacles, but holding him to the promises he made during the campaign is soo 2008. But again, and I cannot stress this point enough, the frustration with Obama is as much political as it is about policy. Great acheivements mean nothing if the voters don't know about them.
As to the third message from Obama supporters, the question of whether or not his detractors want Republicans in charge, that is a spurious claim and they know it. Of course they don't. But is the President under no obligation to do the things necessary to keep this from happening? Should we expect nothing more from him than exasperations about Purity when his base asks anything more from him than premature capitulations with everyone on Earth except the people who put him in office? Unfortunately, it's independents who are all the rage right now. Statistically, Obama's detractors on the Left are expendable this election season. Their options are predetermined: clap louder or consider yourself complicit in whatever republican gains occur in 2012. That is nothing less than blackmail, and it's a terrible way to motivate your base.
I keep reading that the solution - the only solution - is for the Left to stand together, Because The Republicans Are Worse! And they are. But that solution invariably seems to mean that Obama's detractors, and only Obama's detractors, ignore their silly little grievances and support Obama anyway. What I never see however an offer by Obama supporters to put aside their support on any particular issue and stand tall with his detractors on the Left to demand more from the President for once. What a beautiful, beautiful day that would be.