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Posted originally at Delaware Liberal

Recently, I have heard progressive criticism of President Obama in the unfavorable comparison of him to former President Clinton, especially during the debt ceiling fight.   Progressives want a fighter and they want a fighter for all of their issues.  And in the rose colored hindsight of today, President Clinton was a fighter.  

I am always struck by the lionization President Clinton has now received from those who hated him while he was in office. Remember, Clinton was the President who supported and signed into law NAFTA, DADT, and DOMA. He was also despised for reforming welfare.  For all the criticism President Obama has received for playing the game on GOP turf (i.e. talking about paying down debt and deficits), President Clinton did exactly the same thing.  In fact, President Clinton once said the AGREED with a lot of the items in Gingrich's Contract on America, and would work with the Republicans to enact them.  So yeah, Progressives hated President Clinton.  With a passion.  Back then.  They hated him and his Vice President so much some of them voted for Ralph Nader and then handed the presidency to George W. Bush.  Because there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush, remember that?  That's what Progressives said at the time.

Indeed, only 57% of Democrats approved of Clinton at that time.  By contrast, President Obama enjoys a 70% approval of the Democrats today, down recently from highs in the mid 80’s.   .    

Now Clinton is beloved.   Why?  Because we have a new President to hate so much: President Barack Obama.   That’s why.

This column is not a hit piece on Progressives.  I may sound sarcastic above, but I can’t help that. But those are the facts.  Bill Clinton was once loathed by progressives and now he is viewed favorably compared to Obama.   I disagree, but whatever.  

The progressive point in comparing Obama to Clinton is because they want a fighter.  A fighter for Medicare.  A fighter for the basic social safety net that conservatives are intent on cutting with scissors.  Progressives should be loudly voicing their displeasure, and they have been, and should continue to do so.  It pressures the President and his Administration.  It forces the media to report on it.   It keeps the Overton Window from moving too far to the right.   And, I think, progressive pressure has worked to change the narrative and the strategy at the White House.  

From the LA Times:

After pledging to send a job-creation package to Congress next month and daring Republicans to block it, President Obama […] continued to hammer away at Republicans in Congress, suggesting they stand in the way of economic growth[.]

And then here is the President this week on unions.

“[L]et’s make one thing clear. The right of workers to come together and join a union is part of what built America’s middle class. It’s the reason why we’ve got a minimum wage. It’s the reason why folks have weekends. It’s the reason why you have basic protections on the job from an abusive employer.

“There are a whole range of things that people take for granted, even if they’re not in a union, that they wouldn’t have had if it had not been for collective bargaining. So I think it is very important, whether you are in a union or not — and I speak particularly to young people, because you’ve grown up at a time when in a lot of circles ‘union’ somehow is a dirty word — to understand all this is is people joining together so they’ve got a little more leverage; so they’ve got better working conditions, better wages; they can better support their family.

“And a lot of us entered into the middle class because our parent or a grandparent was in a union. Remember that. When I hear this kind of anti-union rhetoric and anti-union assaults, I’m thinking these folks have amnesia. They don’t remember that that helped build our middle class and strengthen our economy.”

That sounds exactly like we want a progressive Democrat to sound like, doesn’t it?  

The old Delaware Dem, back in the olden days of Daily Kos, would think that Progressives should be happy with that and would fire off a bombastic diary at any hint of dissention on the left in voice or deed.  I guess that was because I felt we on the left should be a nice big happy liberal-Democratic-progressive family, all united on the same team, especially when the only other team in town is a bunch of literally evil theocratic fascists.  Indeed, back in the olden days, I started and sustained many a flame war on the Great Orange Satan over this doctrine of SYFPH (Shut your fucking pie hole).  

The new me doesn’t care.  Be miserable if you want. Blast Obama day in and day out for his failures to give you the pony you wanted, or for failing to give you the right model pony you want.   Because the ponies you are crying for is Social Security, or Medicare, or progressive and fair taxation, better schools, single payer universal healthcare, equal rights, ending unnecessary wars of choice, and so on and so on.  
My point is that we all have our roles to play.  I have slowly but finally realized that over the last few years.

The new me realizes you have to criticize Obama from the left.  Because if you don’t, who else will?   It is generally not going to be me.  I am not an activist.  I am, for the lack of a better term to accurately describe me, a political hack.  I think strategically. I think pragmatically.  I am a progressive in terms of the policies I want.  But I am not a progressive activist who marches and protests for those policies.  I am a progressive pragmatist.  So I will not be screaming at the top of my lungs condemning Obama.  But someone from the left should criticize Obama when he and his administration deserve it.  And I and progressive pragmatists like me should stop telling progressive activists to shut the fuck up.  

So go ahead, open your fucking pie hole.  All I want is one simple thing: your fucking vote.  

Here is Kevin Drum on why Liberals are chumps:

Honest to God, Republicans must all be sitting in their back rooms and just cackling like hell right now. Think about it. They developed a strategy to hamstring the president completely — a strategy that’s bulletproof thanks to our country’s Constitution — knowing that it would rally their base but also hoping that it would cause moderates and lefties alike to become disgusted with Obama’s weakness even though we all know who’s really responsible for what’s going on. And it worked! In fact, it’s worked better than they could possibly have imagined. They can probably barely keep from spitting up their beers right now.

We are such chumps.

Kevin is right in describing the situation but wrong or at least premature in calling us chumps.  No, we are chumps if… after knowing all the Republicans have done, if we stay home or vote against Obama.  We are chumps because we are then knowingly giving the election to the Republicans.  

So yeah, bitch and moan and complain all you want about Obama. Feel disgruntled, disappointed and disillusioned. And even threaten to use your vote as leverage.  Deny him and his campaign any financial support.  And I’ll shut up.  

But in the end, on election day, in the voting booth, you have to be reasonable, and you have to be a progressive pragmatist, rather than a progressive activist.   On every other day of the year you can and should be a progressive activist.  On election day, you have to be a progressive pragmatist.   Because we are at the point now where electing Republicans is actually a doomsday Michael Bay film.  

We all have our roles to play.  And on election day, in a two party state whose political system is as dysfunctional as ours can be, and faced with one of the two parties wanting to destroy every you stand for and everything past progressives have accomplished, one of your roles to play is to vote for the President.

This is a controversial message.  Because some view their vote as an extension of their voice, and thus liken what I have just said to SYFPH.  

But your vote is not your voice.  Your vote is your vote.  Your voice is your voice.   Your vote is not an expression of your personal policy preferences, but a choice between two candidates on who comes closest to accomplishing your personal political preferences.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No real evidence for this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dallasdoc, Pithy Cherub
    Bill Clinton was once loathed by progressives and now he is viewed favorably compared to Obama.

    The only thing I see is he fought Gingrich more.  One can think that is good without accepting all of his polciies, like NAFTA.

    People are hurting.  It's not prom king votes.

    Clinton, Obama, who cares?  


    The American people must wise up and rise up!

    by TomP on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 12:00:02 PM PDT

  •  I was not a Bill Clinton, fan. (4+ / 0-)

    Still not.  But one thing Clinton did know how to do was fight.  He showed that during the government shut down and squarely pointed the finger at the Republicans and said the word, "Republicans" and called them out by name.  That is what street fighters do in politics.  

    Barack Obama still want to work with the GOP when all they want is for him to be gone.  And his continual negotiations with the GOP and not getting much back in the eyes of the public is also a problem.  You can not have a president stand on television and state he will not sign a bill that does not have tax cuts and hikes in it, but then sign with no tax hikes.  That is poor leadership and the public saw that.

    Right now, Obama is behind.  He is behind the thing called JOBS.  He put all his political capital on the HCR and did not get much back for political gain, while he left jobs and job creation twisting in the wind.  For 2 solid years the public told him in poll after poll the number one concern was JOBS, this economy and the WH was deaf.  Now it has come back to bite in the arse big time.

    Obama can still win, but he needs to show strong leadership going forward.  People are not listening to anymore speeches unless there is action attached.

    Tipped and rec'd, because I agree with parts of your diary.

  •  From the Left... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, icebergslim

    I am demonstrably unhappy with the theme, organization and execution of many of the Obama Administration's public policy issues.  

    What makes me take a moment to wrap my head around is, Yes We Can, change and approval of it.  Goodness all the meta sword fighting you this from one too many comment blows to the head?  You were one of the original don't say that in public crowd.  Your ID diaries were such a remarkable flipside...Good times...  I even think Hunter did his Blossom thing after a meta war.

    Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up...East Wing Rules

    by Pithy Cherub on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 12:18:09 PM PDT

  •  nice to see you back (4+ / 0-)

    with a pragmatic message.

    I will bitch and moan, for sure, but when it comes down to the crunch, I'll be voting for the President, warts and all.

    Meanwhile, this morning at Pancho's Barber Shop, Las Vegas, NM, there was unanimous agreement that it is time the wealthy started paying their fair share, and that more people get off their asses and vote.  Social Security and Medicare were mentioned in the conversation.

    I also had this to say in a response to one of the mass emails that a neighbor of mine sends:

    step one would be to turn off Faux Nooz and the corporate-owned media that dispenses nothing but propaganda the ruling class wants to clog your mind with.  Step two is register more voters.  Almost half the people in the US don't bother to vote, an as a result we have a  minority of ill-informed people voting in corporate stooges to pass more laws that favor the wealthy and the corporations.  Step three is don't ever vote for Republicans.  There used to be honorable Republicans, but they have all been purged by the T party fools.  The Democrats are far from perfect, but they are all we have to work with, if we keep at it.  Just make sure your vote and support go the Democrats who represent the Democratic wing of the Party, rather than the corporate wing of the Party.  Real Democrats don't vote against Social Security and Medicare, and they do vote to raise taxes on the wealthy, who are NOT paying their fair share, and they DO vote for a  real jobs program to put average Americans back to work.

    98% of Americans have to  get up in the morning to go to work, and if we all get out and vote, we can take back our government from the Plutocrats and get it working for us again.

    don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 12:20:43 PM PDT

  •  Welcome back! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    This is a tip-and-rec-on-sight for me!  Happy to have your voice here again! Of course, I haven't been as active as I used to, either, and perhaps I've missed other postings.

  •  If folks don't like Obama, ok, but work for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    Democrats in the House and Senate.

    “The only thing that happens in an instant is destruction … everything else requires time.” ~ First Lady, Michelle Obama

    by ParkRanger on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 03:06:16 PM PDT

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