These people aren't "raving liberals." Most of them haven't even gotten
word yet that they're supposed to call themselves progressives (and none of them
knew the secret progressive handshake). They're ordinary voters who either
sometimes or reliably vote Democratic, who were members of the Obama majority in
2008 and were convinced that this time their vote really mattered. Now they're
They can see the economic upturn. They see the Dow rising. They know
that corporate profits are no longer in a free-fall. But they can also see that
those profits are rising as their own company is considering another round of
layoffs -- and that those two facts are not unrelated. And what they feel
summarizes what they see: where before they had hope, now they feel primarily
frustration and resentment.
As one of these people recently said to me, the cadence of Obama's
speeches that used to give her shivers is now starting to grate on her nerves.
Western goes on to write about a letter from his credit card company that reflects their continuing ability to carry out predatory lending practices for a 10-month grace period, that he feels exemplifies the excessive compromising that the Administration is doing. Then he concludes:
Of the millions of Americans who are receiving letters like this every day,
I happen to be one of the lucky ones. I don't carry a balance on my credit
cards, my home is still worth more than my mortgage, and I still have a job. But
if Americans are starting to turn populist anger toward a White House that has
doggedly refused to focus that anger where it belongs -- toward the banks, the
mortgage brokers, the regulators who failed to regulate, the oil companies that
have blocked energy reform for decades while racking up record profits, the
health insurance companies that make their profits by denying coverage and
discriminating against the ill, the pharmaceutical companies whose lobbyists
have negotiated away the right to negotiate, and the Republicans who bankrupted
the treasury during the eight long years of the Bush Presidency and crashed the
economy on their way out -- I can understand why.
The American people did not vote for "bipartisan" solutions that split
the difference between the failed ideology of the last eight years, which
continues to cost thousands of people their jobs and homes every day, and the
change the President and the super-majorities they elected in both houses of
The gap between Obama's rhetoric and his political practice is beginning to become very obvious. As for myself, I expected this. I knew he was much more of a centrist/conservative, especially in his economic and foreign policies, than he was appearing to be. But many others did not, and this could pose serious political problems for Obama down the road if he is not careful. People will stop believing or being moved by his words. And since that has been a big part of his success, it could weaken him seriously.