Joan Walsh: Obama is a "centrist who'd placed a high value on conciliation," but "Republicans are acting like terrorists"
If you want to see a good snapshot of what the world looks like right now from the (shrinking) Obamaphiliac left, this Joan Walsh column will do the trick. Come for the long alternative-reality analysis of economic policy, but make sure to stay for this meditation on conciliation at the end:
Too many progressives sold Obama as a soulmate, when it was always clear he was a centrist who'd placed a high value on conciliation, and who believed he was good at it: He'd done it all his life, how could it not work in Washington? It's unfair to blame him for being the president he said he'd be. So far, conciliation has not worked, and the president will face tough choices between the two divergent sides of his 2008 coalition. The nation needs a leader who explains just how bad things are, but reassures people we're up to the challenge.
Obama's great speech shredding the Ryan plan laid out part of the "story" he needs to tell – Republicans seem to have given up on the American dream; Democrats still believe it – but he's got to keep hammering those themes. And it would be nice to see him match words with deeds soon – not caving to GOP blackmail on the debt ceiling might be a place to start. But Republicans are acting like terrorists, threatening to take down the economy in the absence of big cuts. It's scary out there right now, and we need a leader who'll fight for what he believes in.
I don't think Obama is the president "he said he'd be," particularly on some important issues usually championed by the progressive left. But this is a column to bookmark, not nitpick.
For whiplash aficionados, Walsh condemned right-wingers for playing the rhetorical Terrorist Card in June 2009, called Republican critics of the president "traitorous" and "un-American" in December 2009, reacted to the Tucson shooting this January by "swearing off the rhetoric of violence," argued a few days later that there is no left-wing equivalent to the right's incendiary rhetoric, then two months later labeled Glenn Beck an "economic terrorist." In 2009, she accused me of committing "one of the dumbest white-boy outbursts in the history of covering Obama."