Friday, December 05, 2008


Greg Sargent at Talking Points Memo:

Still more poll numbers find that a solid majority of Americans are remaining steadfastly confident in Obama as they watch him assemble his cabinet -- including that group that some pundits have chosen to label the "angry left."

The new Gallup poll finds that 65% say they're confident in him, while 25% say they're not -- virtually identical to Gallup's polling back on November 23rd.

Notably, despite all the talk that the "angry left" is upset with Obama for his supposedly "pragmatic" cabinet picks and his supposedly "centrist" administration, Dems aren't bothered at all: Ninety one percent say they're confident in him now, virtually the same as in November.

While there's been a very slight erosion of support among liberals, from 91% to 84%, the numbers taken all together suggest that the "angry left" meme is more or less a fiction.

I've been defending Obama as he's been accused of abandoning progressive principles, but I don't fully share Greg's sense of satisfaction about the "angry left" number. My feelings are mixed.

What I'd say about this poll is that it helps explain why Obama doesn't seem to want to do a lot of the things many progressives want him to do -- punish Lieberman, prosecute pro-torture Bushies, and so on. The reality is that the more purist members of the netroots simply haven't carried a lot of voters along with them -- judging from these numbers, there just aren't a lot of Americans as far to the left as, say, Jane Hamsher or Glenn Greenwald. In other words, the number of people who'd rally to Obama if he sought to bring multiple Bushie malfeasors to justice would never be more than a small fraction of the number of furious righties ... plus centrists who'd easily be sold on the "partisan witch hunt" meme that would inevitably rise up from the right and the mainstream media simultaneously.

The netroots matter, but the leaders of the netroots simply haven't built a large, impassioned ideologue base, as right-wing talk radio has (with a great deal of help from Murdoch and Scaife and right-wing think tanks), so there just aren't enough voters who'll go to the wall on the issues. I don't know what it would take to develop such a pitchfork brigade, but I can't blame Obama for proceeding cautiously as well as progressively -- in other words, for operating as if no such brigade exists.

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