Monday, May 25, 2009


Hey, I'm back -- thanks, aimai, for filling in while I was offline.

I had a thought on Sunday when I was reading The New York Times. On the front page was a story about the Obama administration's increasing reliance on "foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan," even though many of these countries have rather human rights records. In the Week in Review there was an op-ed by Flynt and Hillary Leverett making a persuasive case that the Obama administration's Iran policy is going to bear no fruit because it's all stick and no carrot. Also in the Week in Review we had Frank Rich remind us that the Obama administration is still allowing gay servicemembers to be dismissed from military service, while Obama shies away from endorsing gay marriage.

All of this is disheartening, though for me it's not too surprising -- even before the election I expected to be disappointed by a fair number of things Obama would do as president (and I felt the same way about Hillary Clinton). But after reading just this one day's worth of disappointments and adding them to other actions that have upset the left, it occurred to me that there are going to be serious calls for a primary challenge to Obama from the left in the runup to 2012.

I'm not sure where they'll be coming from -- Glenn Greenwald? Jane Hamsher? Rachel Maddow? But I'm predicting that it will happen.

On one level, I get it. I have problems with all of the policies I read about in the three stories I've cited from Sunday's Times, and they're not the only letdowns I've had from Obama. But I'm not going to join in.

I'm still waiting for someone to show me how we get to the election of an unambiguously progressive president and an unambiguously progressive Congress -- whereas, by contrast, I can easily imagine electing a president soon (certainly in 2016, and I still think possibly in 2012, which is a long way away) who is even further to the right that Bush, as Bush was further to the right than Reagan. (I'm not sure any other kind of Republican could survive the primary process.) Oh, and a wingnut Congress to go with that new president.

I'm still more focused on neutralizing the far right than anything else. I still don't know how that's done. There seems to be no amount of shrinkage sufficient to render the GOP irrelevant. So I'm going to stick with Obama. But I'm telling you, not everyone on our side will.


UPDATE: I see that Maha has been wondering whether moderate Republicans will split from their party and form a party of their own, while Kevin K. wonders if there's more likey to be a third (netroots-based) party on the left. I think the moderate Repubs (most of whom aren't all that young) are just going to continue saying, "Just you wait -- you'll be back" (how long has Christie Whitman been saying that?), and I doubt lefty Dems will split -- the primary challenge still seems to be the netroot weapon of choice, and, as I say, I think at least a few lefties will seriously talk about targeting Obama that way.

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