"Saving Progressivism From Obama" to Save America From The "Second Wave" to Save Obama From Himself

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 11/30/2010 - 00:48.

Democratic political leadership of today, to the White House, seems intellectually and socially disconnected from the progressive Democratic concepts I embraced growing up in America since 1961, personified to me by John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., in their most-glorified trappings. Today, in my part of America - the region of Northeast Ohio that includes Cleveland, Youngstown and Akron - villainous democratic leaders and their corrupt political and business machines have paralyzed all forms of social and economic progress - extinguished liberal progressivism completely - and made the region such a polluted, incompetent, FBI-embedded disgrace our citizens and economy shall never remotely recover.

At the top of our broken Democratic political, social, environmental, and economic pyramid-scheming is President Obama, who has "turned out to be such a political dud as chief executive" that our "blue-state financial misery continues", along with other blue-states, and that "deepens the ideological crisis for American liberalism" worldwide. Even billionaires traditionally supportive of Democratic party interests and candidates appear to be seeking "alternative brands to Obama himself."

I quote above two excellent columns published online this week, coming from opposite directions, analyzing the challenges Obama faces ahead, mid-term into his presidency, if he seeks any hope of winning a second term in office in 2012 - The Second Wave, by conservative writer Michael Gerson... and Saving Progressivism from Obama, by liberal writer Robert Kuttner.

About Obama's prospects for re-election, in 2012... the conservative Gerson wrote:

For the president, entering his own re-election campaign, the teetering finances of blue America are a serious challenge. Obama, fairly or unfairly (but mainly fairly), has become a big-government brand name. West Virginia's governor and future senator, Joe Manchin, demonstrated that Democrats are willing to run in contrast to Obama when it serves their interests. Other Democratic governors -- perhaps in Colorado and Illinois -- might be tempted to distance themselves as well, establishing what Hood calls "alternative brands to Obama himself."

About expectations for Obama to redeem and transform himself and his Presidency... the liberal Kuttner wrote:

So as President Obama gears up for a re-election battle in 2012, the economy is unlikely to be much different than the one that sank the Democrats in 2010. The question is whether Obama and the Democrats can change the national understanding of what caused the economic collapse and who is blocking the recovery.

I don't have high expectations for Obama. I cannot recall a president who generated so much excitement as a candidate but who turned out to be such a political dud as chief executive. Nor do his actions since the election inspire confidence that he will be reborn as a fighter.

The conservative Gerson offers his observations on the challenges to Progressives in America in the coming years... which he projects to be fatal:

Most significantly, the blue-state financial misery continues and deepens the ideological crisis of American liberalism. Few politicians in traditionally liberal states now speak about the expanding promise of progressive government and the welfare state. New Jersey is already in conservative revolt. New York's Democratic governor-elect, Andrew Cuomo, campaigned on a promise of budget cuts without tax increases. The New York congressional delegation shifted significantly in a Republican direction. While California remains in denial -- even after a budget crisis that has lasted for a decade -- that could rapidly change as well. It may be Democratic governors who are forced by economic reality to limit the size and ambitions of government, delivering a body blow to liberalism itself. If progressive activism can't survive in these places, it will be difficult for it to survive anywhere.

To save progressivism and liberal activism, the liberal Kuttner suggests:

My audacious hope is that progressives can move from disillusion to action and offer the kind of political movement and counter-narrative that the President should have been leading. So our task is to step into the leadership vacuum that Obama has left, and fashion a compelling narrative about who and what are destroying America. Our movement needs the passion and single mindedness of the Tea Party movement, and it helps that we have reality on our side. If we do our jobs, we can move public opinion, discredit the right, and elect progressives to office. Even Barack Obama might embrace us, if only as a last resort.

Even the conservative Gerson leaves some room for hope for Obama and liberals, in his perspective:

All these calculations change, of course, with a dramatically growing economy, providing states with additional revenue and the president with political breathing room. But absent that desired development, Obama's political challenges, and the backlash against liberal government, are only beginning.

No honest liberals nor conservatives expect "a dramatically growing economy" in America in the years, decades or remaining century ahead.

As a progressive, I'm seeking to change those prospects for the world through "alternative brands to Obama himself", and, like conservative Gerson above, I'm noting Colorado and the election of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper as Governor, to replace fellow Democrat Bill Ritter... who did not to seek re-election. The Denver Post reported, "Hickenlooper said he believes he won so comfortably because his team ran a positive campaign."

In his victory speach, as the new Colorado Governor, Hickenlooper said:

"The global recession didn't start here, but we intend to stop it here."

"Tonight, the political campaign may be over, but the business of putting Colorado back to work is just beginning."

"Our focus was on the issues," Hickenlooper said. "We focused on what we were for, not what we were against. Our problems are too big for partisan politics."

The 2012 presidential election is about two years away, and Obama appears to be a sitting lame-duck in the cross-hairs of liberals and conservatives.

Hickenlooper is one alternative brand to Obama that has potential.

Where are the others?

How did America go so far off-track, since I was born, in 1961?

Michael Gerson writes a twice-weekly column for The Post on issues that include politics, global health, development, religion and foreign policy. Michael Gerson is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Michael Gerson served as a policy adviser and chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush from 2000 to 2006. Before he joined Bush's presidential campaign in 1999, Michael Gerson was a senior editor covering politics at U.S. News & World Report. Michael Gerson is the author of the forthcoming book Heroic Conservatism and a contributor to Newsweek magazine.

Robert Kuttner is the author of A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future, recently published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company. Kuttner also authored Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency and several other books on politics and the economy. He is coeditor of The American Prospect magazine and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the progressive think tank Demos. He is a regular commentator on TV and radio, and a contributor to The Huffington Post and The Boston Globe, and a former longtime columnist for BusinessWeek. Previously, he was chief investigator of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and a national staff writer on The Washington Post.

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Election Day losses not Democratic Party's final indignity

From Associated Press:

Dem state lawmakers defecting to GOP post-election

ATLANTA (AP) — Staggering Election Day losses are not the Democratic Party's final indignity this year.

At least 13 state lawmakers in five states have defected to Republican ranks since the Nov. 2 election, adding to already huge GOP gains in state legislatures. And that number could grow as next year's legislative sessions draw near.

The defections underscore dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party — particularly in the South — and will give Republicans a stronger hand in everything from pushing a conservative fiscal and social agenda to redrawing political maps.

Full story from AP here...

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