So, here's a good question; whose opinion do you trust regarding whether President Obama has been an effective progressive, Al Giordano's or Paul Rosenberg's? Well, before giving my opinion, let's see both sides of the "disagreement" (well, let's face it, one argument is a lot better than the other, and anyone who knows me will know which side I come out on).
First, here's Rosenberg's piece:
In turn, to understand why Obama [is] potentially such a disaster, we can look to his career-making speech at the 2004 DNC, which millions of liberals took as clear evidence that Obama was one of them, while millions of conservatives drew the same conclusion. It's now clear that the conservatives were right: with few, if any, exceptions, all his liberal impulses are expressed in terms of a political and conceptual framework defined by conservatives. (Conservatives themselves may not like his choices, but heck, they'd defeat Ronald Reagan in a primary if he were alive today--if he didn't pull Charlie Crist on them first. He is, in short, a Reagan Democrat.) And thus he follows the Supreme Court rules created by conservatives: (1) No ideology on the court. (2) "No ideology" means "strict constructionism" "calling balls and strikes" "insert your conservative buzz-phrase here". He does not challenge the conservative rules, because he believes in the conservative framework, here in dealing with the Supreme Court, just as he believes in the "long war" approach to terrorism, and just as he believes in balancing the budget, provided that the bottom 99% pay the vast majority of the bill.
Next, here's Giordano's take:
What has really just happened is conventional media wisdom has begun to shift, and it looks to me like President Obama is about to get that honeymoon from the media that all the white previous presidents got in their first year in office, only a year and some months late.
And that works out real well, too, since it is this year when midterm Congressional elections will be held in the United States. Sometimes it makes sense to save the honeymoon for the second anniversary.
It won’t last – no media honeymoon does – but it might well endure through November, which would be another triumph in political timing with positive, real world, consequences.
Even if I didn’t like and admire this President, I would still be impressed by his temperament, and by the way he plays the political game. It is worthy of study, and I've learned lots of new tricks just by watching him in action, and taking notes.
So, who's right? Well, to those who know me, it shouldn't come as any big surprise that I come down on Al's side of this (in fact, I've had plenty of problems with Open Left in the past, particularly a scuffle with David Sirota). Frankly, I don't fully understand why people like Rosenberg, Sirota, or Open Left founder Chris Bowers (who seems to be taking sides in this by blasting anyone who dares criticize that which is Open Left) are so fixated on the notion that Obama is not one of them (sounds eerily like the right-wing fringe, doesn't it?) To be fair, I happen to agree that Obama isn't one of them, Obama, unlike Rosenberg and company, has actually accomplished something for the poor and working class of all races, rather than just complaining about how important their opinion is and how horrible it is when people disagree with it.
Incidentally, this brings up something else that Al mentions:
...[F]or sixteen months, denied the media honeymoon that every other president always had in his first year in office,The President has been one hundred percent unflappable. He has not lost his cool or blown his temper in public, not even once. Instead, Obama set to work cueing up his legislative priorities and shepherding them, one at a time, through a difficult Congress, especially hard in the Senate where 40 Republicans plus any one or two conservative Democrats could, as a minority, block the 100-member chamber from voting on any proposed law. And on every single law he proposed or backed, he won passage. Let me repeat that: Every single one. In baseball terms, Obama has batted 1.000. He hasn’t struck out once. Not yet. In a funny way, that infuriates his naysayers even more.
Whether one agrees with Obama’s positions or not, one has to give credit that is due: He walks to his own drumbeat and step by step has gotten big things accomplished.
After all, even in frat house hazing rituals, if the guy being hazed endures it with grace, he has to be invited into the fraternity. In that sense some of the current serial hazers have shown less class than frat boys.
Suddenly – and I suppose the Rand Paul implosion pinpricked some white liberal consciences to contribute to their sudden turnaround, because it made it clear just how much of the American dysfunction is about race – some journalism and opinion column insiders have begun to consider the cumulative whole of President Obama’s first sixteen months in office and do some very simple math.
This is why I've always been a big fan of Al Giordano, he's very good at making connections to things that aren't always completely clear (but when he makes them, they always make perfect sense). Speaking as a white guy in a country that tends to be a lot more favorable towards whites than nonwhites, it's easy to forget how often race explains a lot about what happens in the world, and how easy it is for people like me to forget that for a lot of people, race is more than just an interesting dissertation, it's the way a lot of people are viewed and how they are treated in the world. The same applies to President Obama, and frankly, I suspect that if John Edwards were president right now and accomplished half of what Obama did, Bowers, Sirota, and Rosenberg would be on the forefront championing man-of-the-people President Edwards who is only out for the average worker.
To be fair, I have no idea what the Open Left crowd is really thinking, and for all I know, they'd be just as hard on President Edwards as they have been on President Obama, but it really is interesting that President Obama, who has accomplishments which are on par with Franklin Roosevelt's and with a lot less to work with, is being called a conservative corporatist by college-educated white guys who get to write for a living and not have to actually do any labor or do any real work helping people. For the record, I'm a college educated white guy myself, but I'm certainly not under the delusion that the progressive movement is only made up of people like me. Ultimately, if progressive means what Rosenberg and company seem to believe, then you can count me out, but if progressive means actually working towards the betterment of the poor and working class and not an ego trip for some college-educated white guys (who give the rest of us college-educated white guys a bad name), then count me in!