Are Liberals Really Enraged?

Crossposted at Projectile Politics

In the past few weeks, there has been considerable discussion surrounding liberal anger about Obama's early cabinet choices. Pundits are falling all over themselves to get liberals to say that they feel abandoned by this apparent move to the center. This issue is largely born from three symptoms:

1. There are many liberals who are truly and legitimately frustrated with Obama's choices,

  1. The media's overwhelming urge to create controversy,
  2. The Republican Party's insistence they are not failing and that Obama must complement his Presidency with a constant string of centrist policies.

A Wall Street Journal article today argues the following: "Having enraged the left wing of his party with several initial high-profile appointments, Mr. Obama is now under pressure to placate this mob. One obvious, if frightening, choice would be to reward them with the energy-and-environment portfolio, turning it over to a team that shares the grass-roots' green agenda."

First of all, this overstates the disappointment that the Left has had with Obama's initial appointments. A Gallop Poll released today finds that 65% of liberals are still supportive of President-elect Obama. And even for those who are less-than-pleased, this is frustration, not rage. And I think that his early picks have been politically essential to improve his mandate and have a more widespread impact when he is inaugurated on January 20. Also, if Obama begins to appoint more liberal Cabinet members, it will be because they are the best candidates for those jobs, not to "placate this mob" of blood-thirsty-centrist-hating-socialist crazies.

Second, these early Cabinet choices are in departments that one might expect a liberal President to make more centrist choices by default: foreign relations and the economy. All throughout the Primary, Barack Obama promised to "gather up talent from everywhere." (I also want to note that his choice for Ambassador to the U.N., Susan E. Rice, is a strong progressive who seems eager to reject the policies of the Bush Administration.)

But Obama still has many cabinet positions to fill, and these are primarily areas in which he is likely to go liberal. These include Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Education, and head of the EPA. And an openly gay woman - Mary Beth Maxwell- is being seriously considered for Secretary of Labor.

And above all this, I believe in the argument that all of these Secretaries are Obama's employees. At the end of the day, regardless of their own ideology, they will implement Obama's policies.

So before we liberals freak out about Obama's departure from the left, and before conservatives declare victory in this ongoing ideological war, let's remember that we are barely beginning the first quarter of a long, eight year Obama Presidency. Sure, Obama is likely to be more centrist than a lot of us would like, but let's keep the hope alive that he will deliver on that oft-cited message of change.

Tags: Barack Obama, cabinet, transition (all tags)

Comments

18 Comments

Only liberal compared to McPalin

I hope people will finally stop allowing the radical right to frame the debate by accepting their phony labels.  Arrrrgggh, the "most liberal" senator?  Bullshit I say, bullshit.

by mydailydrunk 2008-12-05 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Only liberal compared to McPalin

It was bullshit- the National Journal  cherry picked 92 votes out of over 400 to get that most liberal senator label. They also did the same thing to Kerry in 2004:

A Republican National Committee ad released Oct. 16 claims that Kerry is "the most liberal man in the Senate." It's true that vote rankings by the politically neutral magazine The National Journal rated Kerry "most liberal" in 2003 and in three earlier years during his first Senate term: 1986, 1988, and 1990. But over his entire career the Journal ranks Kerry the 11th most liberal Senator. And by other rankings he's only a bit left of his party's center.

http://www.factcheck.org/how_liberal_is_ john_kerry.html

by skohayes 2008-12-05 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Only liberal compared to McPalin

I liked how Team Obama went on the offensive by saying McCrazy voted with Bush 95 percent of the time.

I think if the Republics had their druthers, they'd probably wish senate voting records never became an issue.

by Bush Bites 2008-12-07 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

I don't know a soul who's enraged.  I know folks who are frustrated and/or disappointed, but another term for disappointment is "a Democrat's natural state."  Oh, and who ever heard of a man named Mary Beth?

by Steve M 2008-12-05 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

jeez. thanks for the update. edited above.

by brbuchwal 2008-12-05 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?
There's a reason I don't read the WSJ anymore.
The diary above explains why. Because they're stupid.
First of all, who is enraged? Who is "the left wing" of the party?
They're scared, really scared that Obama is going to be an historic president and the Republicans as they are now are on the verge of extinction.
by skohayes 2008-12-05 10:14AM | 0 recs
Astute analysis n/t

by Bob Sackamento 2008-12-05 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

I frequent a few websites where the criticisms range from rational to semi-irrational to downright immature, at least in my opinion (David Sirota over at Openleft seems to be obsessed with creating an "us versus them" mentality with respect to Obama already - again, in my personal opinion).  I don't get it.  I merely expect competence and progressive policymaking, and I'm certainly willing to give the administration a grace period to take action as they see fit, especially since Obama hasn't even been sworn in yet.

by rfahey22 2008-12-05 03:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

Is this is a trick question?Anybody who saw the disgusting and vile behavior towards Hillary in the primary can tell you they many liberals are enraged.

by KnoxVow 2008-12-05 03:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

So, the pony knows just that one trick?

by thoughtfully ebullient 2008-12-05 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

Is this the third iteration of your name?

KnowVox
XovWonk
KnoxVow (?)

I guess you burned your bridges with the other two.

by rfahey22 2008-12-05 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

Hillary's a liberal?

by Bush Bites 2008-12-07 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

This diary follows a fallacy and then runs with it.  It basically makes it a futile exercise, since the premises are all wrong.  

The two main fallacies:

1.  Using false numbers

this overstates the disappointment that the Left has had with Obama's initial appointments. A Gallop Poll released today finds that 65% of liberals are still supportive of President-elect Obama. And even for those who are less-than-pleased, this is frustration, not rage.

Nope. Sorry.  The Gallup poll you linked to clearly shows that 65% of the country - that includes Democrats, Independents and Republicans - is confident in Obama.  The claim made in this diary that "65% of liberals are still supportive of President-elect Obama" is  obviously false.  The Gallup poll actually does show us satisfaction levels by party identity:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/112900/Cabine t-Picks-Affecting-Overall-Confidence-Oba ma.aspx

91% of Democrats have confidence in Obama.  The subgroup "liberals" shows an 84% confidence in Obama.  So, while you are correct about the assertion that the Wall Street Journal article is obviously full of crap for claiming that liberals as a whole are enraged you actually did not detail how full of crap the Wall Street Journal article - btw. their editorial section is generally right-wing conservative - truly was.  84% approval is a pretty overwhelming satisfaction rate amongst liberals that obviously puts the lie to the assertion that liberals on the whole are enraged.  

2. The diary attempts to create an equivalency between approval of cabinet picks and overall confidence in Obama.

While tracking fairly closely in terms of poll numbers, the latter is more an assessment of how confident people are in Obama's ability to be a good president, verification of which is in the future and remains therefore unknown until it actually comes to fruition.  The part about satisfaction with the cabinet picks is in the here and now, so creating an equivalency of the two subjects is awkward at best.   Just to complete the picture here, and once again show how far off the WSJ piece (of crap) really was, another poll from Dec. 2 showed approval of the cabinet picks as follows:

http://www.gallup.com/video/112801/Ameri cans-Favorable-Towards-Obamas-Transition -Far.aspx

78% of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the transition.

94% of Democrats approve.

89% of Democrats approve of the choice of Hillary Clinton as SoS.

79% of Democrats approve of the one-year appointment of Gates as SoD.

What it really boils down to is that liberals as a whole are quite confident in Obama - to the tune of 84%, according to the poll you linked to.  His transition and overall cabinet moves are met with 94% approval amongst Democrats overall, the two major cabinet appointments are overwhelmingly approved of by Democrats to the tune of ~90% in regards to Clinton and ~80% in regards to Gates.

Given all the hard data I have laid out above the WSJ piece is a piece of crap and really not discussion worthy.

by devilrays 2008-12-05 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

Very good comment.  And realistically, once you notice that the "article" comes from a member of the WSJ editorial staff as opposed to the generally competent reporting team, you know to expect that there's going to be a sketchy relationship with the truth.

by Steve M 2008-12-05 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

Poor sourcing generally kills even the best laid-out argumentation.  Not only did the diary make false claims of fairly divided liberal confidence ratings, which proved untrue, but the writer and her opinion piece used as an example of  mainstream press reaction was simply not up to the task.  

She was branded a "conservative idiot" back in 01:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/top 10/01/top10_2001_32.html

The Top Ten Conservative Idiots (Week 32)
August 20, 2001

4. Kimberley Strassel

http://conwebwatch.tripod.com/stories/20 01/cockfight.html

and here is her right-wing slam on Obama back in October, with every right-wing idiotic talking point barked out by Limbaugh and Hannity sheepishly regurgitated:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/article s/2008/10/obamas_magic.html

In fairness, the diarist meant to take the mainstream press to task for making claims that are somewhat overstated, but the fact of the matter is that those claims are utter nonsense and come from a Limbaugh wannabe to boot.  

by devilrays 2008-12-06 04:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

I think that there are those who confuse revolutionary activism with being liberal; most notably Republicans who hate anything that benefits the general population and hampers the consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few. And that is the reason both tend to overspray the word "liberal" on hard core revolutionary activists linking them to Obama in the same breath and tainting the word "liberal" in the process. Obama is sure to disappoint those--Republicans and revolutionary activists alike, strange bedfellows indeed--who interpreted Obama's call for change as being a coded message calling for revolutionary activism. Too bad. Obama is just an old school Democrat trying to pull the Nation together after its fling with the Republican nuthouse crowd and its resident nutcase in Washington. Obama will preside well for the next 8 years because he is truly a liberal--not the tainted-word liberal both Republican neocons and revolutionary activists alike tend to want him to be--and the Nation will soon become prosperous and smug and willing to believe yet another nutcase like Bush and the cycle will repeat itself over and over again until this Nation becomes a true social democracy where the voices of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens, etc., etc., are heard.  

by azAZ09 2008-12-06 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

Oh, yes!  They are taking it out on the state of Michigan and the people in the midwest that helped put Obama in office...  We voted for hope and in return we get, "Let them fail!"

by LordMike 2008-12-07 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Liberals Really Enraged?

Proves my point... what a kind, compassionate liberal you are...

BTW, how do you expect to win the midwest without unions?

Answer: You won't!

So, enjoy dancing on our graves... you'll be in the minority again soon enough.  Republicans are good at pouncing on post-indsutrial economies... we get very bitter, you know.. an cling to our God and guns!

If you don't give a damn abut 3 million people out of work, perhaps you'd give a damn about losing 60 to 80 electoral votes...

Have a nice day!

Oh, and when the earthquake hits your part of California... I'll make sure to look you up and say, "Who cares about California.. you really should have chosen to live somewhere else."

by LordMike 2008-12-07 08:56PM | 0 recs

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