Thursday, June 4, 2009

Milbank: Obama is Killing the Progressive Movement

Anyone want to replace Michelle in this photo?

The solicitation I received today from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee offered the chance to win an opportunity to have my photo taken with Barack Obama. Opting to unsubscribe from the DSCC’s mailing list, I included a message giving my reasons why I left the Democratic Party a year ago and re-registered as non-affiliated. I listed the usual: sexism, misogyny, ageism, Rules Committee violations, rigged convention and in general, the party’s eager embrace of the tactics of left-wing extremists - whatever it took to nominate Obama.

I’d even become ashamed to describe myself as liberal or progressive, so I had only mixed feelings when I read Dana Milbank’s opening line in today’s Washington Sketch, “President Obama is just killing the progressive movement.”

Milbank reports:

For the past few years, liberal activists have gathered in Washington each spring for the Take Back America conference, where speaker after speaker -- Obama sometimes among them -- would give rollicking denunciations of the Bush administration before packed rooms of partisans.

But now that Obama has actually taken back America, the activists at this year's gathering feel a bit like the dog that finally caught up with the car. Organizers changed the name from Take Back America to America's Future Now, but that didn't prevent a sharp decline in participation.

At sparsely attended sessions this week at the Omni Shoreham, the progressive leaders debated whether they should shift their efforts to defending Obama, or fighting him when he strays from liberal doctrine. "It was easy taking back America," Robert Borosage, the conference organizer, told about 250 of the faithful at yesterday's closing luncheon. "Now we have to remake it. . . . That's the hard work."

Apparently so. Speakers at the closing session exhorted the liberals to take back America -- from Obama. "The president of the most powerful country in the world is doing all right, but there are a lot of people in this country who are not doing all right," writer Naomi Klein told the crowd. "Obama is making us stupid," she added. "Love can make you stupid."

Comparing last year’s energy at the conference to this year’s lethargy, Milbank writes:

Hickey estimates attendance dropped from 2,500 last year to 1,500 this year, and even that may overstate things. At yesterday morning's four concurrent "issue briefings," 585 chairs were set out. Only 213 of them were occupied, including just 15 for the session on global warming. "Radio row" was quiet, the "TV Terrace" was empty, and two people sat typing on "Blogger Boulevard."

"It's been much less busy this year," said a guy in the nearly empty exhibit hall who was handing out stickers from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force saying "Power is Sexy." Nobody was shopping at the book kiosk in the middle of the room, where the titles leaned toward the battles of the George W. Bush years: "The Constitution in Crisis . . . a Blueprint for Impeachment." "The Uprising." "Plunder and Blunder." "The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule."

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  1. Is it lack of interest for these liberal causes or do they feel that the war has been won? It seems that Obama has so split the Democrats, it is almost like ~ "where do we go from here"?
    Since the election, those of us who didn't drink the koolaid are still waiting for it to wear off for those who did drink it. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all be on the same page again like the last 8 years? My sister is waiting for me to drink the Koolaid, and I am waiting for it's spell to wear off for her. We still can't have our usual sisterly phone conversations, and I wonder if things will ever be the same again. Perhaps after Obama is out of office? Just wishing...
    Thanks for another interesting post!

  2. Hi Becky,

    Good to hear from you! I'm not sure what it would take for the Democratic Party to come back together again. But it would help to hear an acknowledgment of wrong doing, an apology, and assurance that it won't happen again.