Liberals Getting Burned

04Jul08

How do liberals feel as, day by day, it becomes more clear that Barack is your standard, slimy American politician rather than the great Savior? It doesn’t really matter.

The liberal blogosphere has lit up with outrage, bemoaning how the man who promised to move beyond politics as usual is, well, engaging in politics as usual. Some have vowed to refocus their energy and donations toward progressive candidates further down the ballot. But they will still vote for Obama, not Ralph Nader, the onetime darling of the left, and certainly not Senator McCain. Not voting is also off the table, given the stakes. And so, progressive activists say, Obama is likely to get away with his rightward shift.

He may get away with it as far as collecting liberal votes, but that doesn’t mean that mainstream America will accept the idea that the whole “new kinda politics” thing was just a marketing strategy.

“The peril is not as much among the progressive base as it is among the general electorate,” says David Sirota, author of the book “The Uprising.” “What Obama is saying is, ‘I’m a vacillating politician.’ The public does not like politicians who try to nuance their way out of principled positions.”

Is there a market for liberal con men in presidential politics? Sure, say some, Bill Clinton did it – twice!

…Bill Clinton won both contests with pluralities, winning in 1992 with just 43 percent of the vote (because of the strong independent candidacy of Ross Perot) and 49 percent in 1996. With no strong third-party candidate on the horizon in 2008, chances are the winner will need a majority of the vote. While most national polls show Obama with a modest lead over McCain, few have shown him winning a majority.

Will McCain successfully keep the spotlight on Barack’s summer long slide down the oil slick of politics as usual, or will Barack move freely from leftist to centrist without suffering a significant blow to his credibility?

So far, polls show no obvious movement of voters based on Obama’s repositioning. But independent pollster John Zogby sees a particular risk among young voters, who have turned out and volunteered in droves for Obama and may be disillusioned by his display of old-style politics.

In the end, though, this election will be fought and won in the middle, says Mr. Zogby. “So both Obama and McCain are going to be in the middle.”

For Obama, how he gets there could be key to whether he keeps the faith with his supporters.

Barack won the nomination not just because he talked change, but because he communicated change on every level, conscious or otherwise. When voters are faced with the knowledge come fall that he has surrounded himself with scummy people throughout his political career, and he lied on being the purveyor of a new kinda politics, his popularity will plummet.

“If I were them (the Obama campaign) I would wake up every morning and ask myself how I can stay true to my brand as a politician who would change the way Washington works,” said Matthew Dowd, the former Bush strategist.



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