Thursday, December 17, 2009


Dana Milbank in The Washington Post:

Tea parties -- they aren't just for conservatives anymore.

Liberals are turning against President Obama with an energy that until now has been reserved for Fox News viewers who wear tri-corner hats and wave yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in a news conference Wednesday, declares that she won't ask House members to support Obama's Afghanistan troop increase in a January vote....

... Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) holds a news conference to denounce Obama's renomination of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke....

Howard Dean goes on the radio and says of the Senate health-care bill, which Obama is fighting mightily to pass: "The best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill." ...

Milbank offers a few more examples (MoveOn vs. Obama's Lieberman capitulation, Alan Grayson vs. the war, John Conyers angry about a lot of things) -- but they still don't amount to much so far. So far it's just a few isolated bits of noise, not really on the radar of anyone except pundits and prime-time MSNBC viewers.

Yeah, I know -- the people attacking the White House from the left are just getting started. Well, the right-wing tea party movement had a pretty fast learning curve -- it's been around for only a few month, and it's frighteningly effective already (although, arguably, it's just the same old Astroturf from lobbyists with years of experience, but with some Alinsky added to the mix).

Here's the left-right difference: the righty teabaggers can get large swaths of America to accept their interpretation of legislation. They say "death panels," much of America believes there's a proposal for death panels. They say Granny will die, many Americans start to believe Granny will die. They scream about deficits, much of America starts to worry about deficits.

If there are going to be lefty teabaggers, they need to be able to move the needle on public opinion. And then, like the teabaggers, they need to be able to get a legislative reaction to their anger.

I don't see that yet, though I guess it's early days for what I guess we could call post-Obama liberalism.

Maybe, in the days and weeks to come, as many Americans will express reservations about the health care bill in lefty-teabagger terms as in righty teabagger terms -- I doubt it, but we'll see.

I see more fertile ground on the economy and the Obama economic team. Come on, folks -- make the reappointment of Bernanke a big deal, for crissake. Milbank writes:

Sanders [called] a news conference ... to explain why he had put a "hold," or a delay of his own, on Obama's renomination of Bernanke. "I am going to do everything I can to see that he is not reappointed," the senator vowed in front of nine television cameras. "I am requesting President Obama give us a new nominee."

In a case of unlucky timing, Time magazine a few hours earlier had named Bernanke its Person of the Year for his role in rescuing the world economy from collapse.

Why is that unlucky timing? Attack the media, lefty 'baggers! That always works for the right, no?

Seriously -- this is the opportunity to create and put forth a liberal narrative with the potential to become America's narrative. And this is the opportunity to throw sand in the gears. Grind the process of reappointing Bernanke to a halt! Be Liebermans! Be Tom Coburns! It shouldn't just be Sanders -- make trouble, make news, get America to grasp the idea that liberalism is not corporatism. America doesn't get that right now, thanks to Obama.

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