I found out tonight that the so-called “professional left” has the power to keep President Obama from being re-elected and those on the left who criticize the President, like me, are the enemy. It seems that there are some on the left that wish there was a propaganda machine like we see with the GOP/Fox “news” nexus. Such a wish is wrong and won’t help in President Obama’s re-election. Criticism, when based on facts, isn’t an enemy if we want to hold our elected officials accountable. I think only being a cheerleader is not being a complete and productive citizen of this country.
I was flitting around on Twitter tonight and as usual some tweets came up complaining about how members of the so-called “professional left” are mucking things up for President Obama. Here is a tweet that perked my ears up.
So I asked the question who the “half the left” were?
That still didn’t answer my question since “Dems” is vague so I asked for names of people who they didn’t think were cheerleading hard enough for the President.
The next question I had was if they meant Chris Matthews, host of Hardball on MSNBC. They didn’t answer but if that was who they were thinking of then this person already lost thee argument. Chris Matthews, if he is a Democrat, is a Blue Dog Democrat at least. I don’t expect Matthews to cheerlead for the President. None of the Mainstream media do that. They all get their orders from Drudge and the Fox “news” smear machine and take it as far as they can.
Except for Jane Hamsher, who goes off the rails sometimes, the rest of the names – Michael Moore, Glenn Greenwald, Cenk Uygur – have had articles or TV appearances where they approved of something the President had done. They each have had specific criticism that have been based on facts where the President did the wrong thing. For example Greenwald has written extensively about Obama’s short comings on the whole Guantanamo Bay prison camp issue. His speciality is constitutional law and civil rights. The President promised to shut the prison down during the campaign and he has yet to do it. That is a fair criticism.
My interlocutor then sent this:
First it wouldn’t surprise me if Homeland Security (DHS) wasn’t keeping an eye on the entire Occupy movement since it involves a large number of people gathered to protest. DHS’s job is to keep an eye on large groups of all kinds. This is the same agency that issued a report on extreme right wing groups being a threat to the country.
The so-called co-ordination hasn’t been proven but the Mayors in the cities where the Occupy members were evicted, pepper sprayed, and arrested did consult a private group called The Police Executive Research Forum.
So Michael Moore was wrong on the details. It happens. We’re human after all. That still doesn’t support the idea that critics of the President should be silent.
I believe that as long as the criticism is based in facts then I don’t see the problem. Aren’t we suppose to hold our elected officials accountable. How can we do that if we just grit our teeth and be quiet.
I dislike “group think”. I hate it as much as I hated when those on the right tried to silence critics of the Iraq war by calling people traitors and suggesting they be jailed. Or how about the loyalty pledge that George W Bush’s staff required to attend his stump speeches during the 2004 election.
Then we come to this so-called “professional left” meme. It’s a smear that includes any one on the left who has a national following and who criticizes the President.
I don’t think there really is a “professional left” person that has the power to affect the 2012 election – either positively or negatively.
Just as only a few million watch FOX “news” and listen to conservative talk radio, only a few million pay attention to pundits on the left. You have to be hard core to listen to talk about public policy – you have to be a policy wonk to even care what Cenk Uygur says each day (for example).
According to Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, it seems criticisms from the “professional left” haven’t driven the base away from the President:
Everyone knows that President Obama has a problem with his political base heading into 2012. Except that he doesn’t.
“There is one immutable fact about President Obama’s reelection chances: Nobody has a more solid 44 percent base than he does,” Democratic pollster Peter Hart wrote in a not-entirely-uncritical memo assessing the state of political affairs a year out from the election.
As evidence, Hart noted that in the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Obama takes 44 percent in a three-way race with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) running as an independent; has a 44 percent job approval rating; and has a 45 percent positive personal rating. In the same survey, 45 percent said they “probably” will vote for Obama in 2012.
So while I, and others on the left complain about the extension of the tax cuts, the lack of a public option in health care reform (or lack of single payer for that matter), and failing to close the Guantanamo Bay prison (for example), we plan on still voting for President Obama.
A political party will have to form a coalition between its base and the people considered independent or moderates to win the election. And I’m fairly certain that independents and moderates don’t watch pundit shows on the cable channels or read blogs like Daily Kos unless they are really wonky about politics.
In 2010 independents went to the GOP because they were not satisfied with the Democrats work. The Democrats had caved to the Republicans on many issues and the negative press in the main stream press soured regular voters on the President. His low approval rating wasn’t because of the “professional left” it was due to the right leaning mainstream press.
Another subset of the argument as noted by my interlocutor:
The person is correct and wrong at the same time. While the President is an important office, so is the Congress, state, and local offices. “Bashing” the President won’t affect those offices. The President does appoint Supreme Court justices but the Senate has to approve them. Robert Bork anyone.
Voter suppression by Republicans is a real threat but that also points to spending more time and resources locally to elect Democrats who could then work to stop those efforts or repeal them if the GOP gets them passed in the first place. Harping about complaints from the “professional left” won’t change that fact.
It seems too that people are starting to wake up from their FOX “news”/conservative media bias stupor. Instead of polls showing people concerned about deficit reduction – which is a GOP mantra – now majorities favor dealing with income inequality by taxing the rich.
I’m more concerned about the the complaints and lack of journalism from the mainstream press. While a small number of people get their news from FOX or MSNBC, many get their news from the mainstream outlets like NBC, ABC, and CBS who seem to be taking their cues from the Drudge/FOX “news” combine. That sort of factless reporting, and allowing agendas to be presented without hard questioning, is far more of threat than what Michael Moore, Glenn Greenwald, or Cenk Uygur say about the President.
What worries me is the wrong information or wild speculation pushed on the networks after a mention on the FOX “news” channel. The negative stories about the President or under playing his successes is a problem. My Mom is a low information voter and she only knows who Michael Moore is but she watches the 6:30 PM national news broadcasts every night. She has me to undo some of the wrong information presented but what about those who don’t have a “fact checker” in their lives?
So lets drop the unnecessary sniping at those who are of like mind on the left. The real “enemy” are the Republicans and people like the Koch brothers. We need to get out the vote everywhere and trying to enforce “group think” is a waste of time.
I obscured the twitter handles of the people involved in the above exchange because I’m only using this exchange as an example of something I see all the time online. I don’t have a personal beef with the people in this exchange but I also would like to note that the person who I was “talking” to ended up unfollowing and then blocked me. (tear) That kind of proves my point. People who tell like minded people to STFU and refuse to debate that request or who refuse to discuss the issue are as closed minded as the people opposed to us. THAT doesn’t help the President get re-elected.