Ed Driscoll

Nobody Mention The L-Word

Ever four years, there’s at least one article mentioning that the left hates to be called liberal; here’s Rich Lowry’s take from 2004 (which actually namechecks Obama, then a newly minted senator). And in the International Herald-Tribune (a Pinch of a spinoff from the NYT), here’s this year’s model: in addition to never mentioning his middle name, one must never use the L-word to describe Barry O in polite company:

Simon Rosenberg, who leads the New Democrat Network and is currently unaligned in the Democratic contest, argues, “My basic belief is the generation-long era of political domination, the ascendancy of conservative politics, is at an end, and Obama has captured more than anyone else the opportunity of this era.” He added: “It’s very hard to put labels on him. He’s building his own sandbox.” [Is he old enough to play in it unsupervised?–Ed]

Obama, in fact, had the support of 64 percent of independents in the last New York Times/CBS News Poll. But can that transpartisan appeal be sustained? He has only begun to take some hard political hits – from the Clinton campaign, from conservative commentators and radio hosts, and from Senator John McCain’s campaign. The recent flare-up about his pastor’s racial views was one example. And Republicans are just starting up their attacks.

“Nobody’s yet taken him on as a liberal,” said Andrew Kohut, who leads the Pew Research Center. “But McCain will.”

So far, Republicans give every indication of planning to portray Obama as a big-government liberal out of touch with American values and unprepared to be commander in chief.

“When you’re rated by National Journal as to the left of Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders, that’s going to be difficult to explain,” said Danny Diaz , a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.

Coupled with Michelle Obama’s punitive liberalism, Rev. Wright’s radical chic-era boilerplate conspiratorial racism, Tony Rezko’s questionable financial dealings, and Obama’s own minimalistic voting record, that’s quite a load of baggage for someone with a featherweight history as a national politician to tote on the road to the White House.

Related: Well, related conceptually, at least: “Kinder, gentler euphemisms for failure.”