Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Belatedly, Obama remembers his organizing roots"

E. J. Dionne:
"Think back to two years ago," Sanders said during an interview in the only Senate office decorated with a medallion of Eugene V. Debs, the legendary American Socialist leader. "There were rallies involving 80,000 to 100,000. Obama was running the best campaign I've seen in my lifetime -- and I'm pretty critical."

"Why are we where we are today?" he continues. "The most serious mistake the president made was not, in a sense, continuing the thrust of his campaign, and [in] forgetting all he accomplished."

Sanders does not discount what Obama and congressional Democrats achieved through the economic stimulus, health care and financial reform. But he argues that by replacing a mobilizing approach and clear progressive goals with an insider strategy aimed at compromising with a few moderate Republican senators, Obama deactivated his own enthusiasts. These are the very people the president was trying to motivate in Madison.

"While Obama and the Democrats have a large number of achievements, it was not enough," said Sanders. "We needed to be bolder."

Yet Sanders will do all he can to help Democrats win this fall, and therein lies the paradox for progressives. It's true that many on the left are frustrated with White House calls for them to buck up and grow up. Jane Hamsher, who blogs at Firedoglake, sees the administration's taunts as setting up the left as a "fall guy" if Democrats lose.

But progressives keenly understand how much their aspirations would be set back if an increasingly right-wing Republican Party won one or both houses this fall. MORE...

Howie P.S.: What if Obama had kicked the ass of, for example, Ben Nelson (in public), instead of "the professional left"?

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