Ed Driscoll

Untangling the Left's Sudden Obama Antipathy

Victor Davis Hanson threads the needle of why the left has abandoned Obama. (At least temporarily — as he writes, they’ll be back on the bandwagon next year. Where are they going to go?) As always, the ideology of liberalism / leftism / progressivism is never in question, but there’s also the extra tension for the left after so spectacularly misreading their man in advancing him to Godhood as a candidate, so the president himself must be blamed:

In other words, there is now an elite liberal effort to disentangle Obama from liberalism itself, and to suggest that his sagging polls are not a reflection of Obama’s breakneck efforts to take the country leftward—but either his inability or unwillingness to do so!

Partly the disappointment is understandably emotional. Just three years ago Obama was acclaimed as a once in a lifetime prophet of liberalism, whose own personal history, charisma, teleprompted eloquence and iconic identity might move a clearly center-right country hard leftward where it otherwise rarely wished to go.

Partly, the anger is quite savvy: if one suddenly blames Obama the man, rather than Obama the ideologue, then his unpopularity is his own, not liberalism’s. There is a clever effort to raise the dichotomy of the inept Carter and the politically savvy Clinton, but in the most improbable fashion: Clinton supposedly was a success, not because he was personable, sometimes compromising, and often centrist, and Carter was a failure not because he was sanctimoniously and stubbornly ideological, but just the opposite: Clinton is now reinvented as the true liberal who succeeded because of his principled leftwing politics, Carter like Obama was a bumbling compromiser and waffler.

As always with VDH, read the whole thing.

Related: “Obama’s Problem According To Maureen Dowd: No Villains,” Melissa Clouthier writes at Red State. Yes, like Pauline Kael, Maureen Dowd lives in a rather special fantasy world, too: “Who Obama thinks are his enemies are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m passing above flyover country I can feel them,” to Dowdify Kael’s most famous, if oft-misremembered quote.

Meanwhile, even more so than Dowd, fellow Timesperson Thomas Friedman reverts to fantasyland. Well, even more than he usually does, but with the same anti-democratic message as always.