Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Calm Down

Oliver Willis offers some advice to liberals hyperventilating over the spending freeze proposal.

I’m not saying liberals should keep themselves quiet and rubber stamp the president – people who make this argument are simply making a down payment on the straw to run their farms. But what I am saying is that liberals to often treat Democratic presidents like Maury Povich just told them that he has in fact failed the lie detector test.

We saw that on Monday with the leaked story that the Obama administration planned some spending freezes. What we know about the proposal:

* It exists
* Defense spending is exempt
* If/when there’s a second stimulus or jobs bill it is exempt
* Health care reform would be exempt
* It is targeting redundancies, waste, excess, etc.
* The details of what will be targeted have not been released yet

That halfway story seemed to be all liberals needed in order to issue their own Fox News Alerts about the betrayal and then began the parade of frankly embarrassing hysteria.


How does one correct someone who is on your side but has bouts of straying like President Obama? Offer constructive criticism, rather than throwing his clothes on the lawn, for one. You’ve got a perfectly good right to bitch as well as moan about things, but the equivalent of crying “fire” in a crowded theater just makes for a crappy moviegoing experience.

Barack Obama is the center-left, charismatic politician he has been for most of his life in the public. There are numerous issues on which he should be much more progressive, not just for the overall fortunes of the progressive movement, but for the future strength of the country. But we won’t get there if every perceived misstep (especially one based on a less than clear story that is slowly being filled in) is greeted as if he kicked a puppy in the teeth. We shouldn’t help a media environment that already favors Democratic politicians wagging their finger at the base, nor should we allow Democratic pols to get away with conservative nonsense.

Measure pols like Obama on their words and hold them to high standards, but don’t profess anger at them for not holding up to a caricature you dreamily doodled in your Trapper Keeper.


The one thing that I will give the Republicans kudos for is that they have the lock-step routine down cold. When one of their guys goes and does something that is both unexpected and out of the groove that they put him in, they manage to gulp and swallow it and come up with — to them — pitch-perfect talking points to feed to the Villagers like Chris Matthews and David Gregory. Behind the scenes they may be seething, but they dare not show it in public lest they be seen as less than loyal and excluded from the next clam bake at Burning Tree Country Club.