Free Markets, Free People


Krugman, Obama and “Progressive Revolt”

Michael Barone recently wrote an article in which he pointed out, “there are more conservatives than Republicans and more Democrats than liberals”.

Let that soak in for a minute and then consider today’s Paul Krugman article in which he seems a bit surprised by the Obama administration’s surprise that liberals are furious with him about the goings on in the health care debate.

Says Krugman:

A backlash in the progressive base — which pushed President Obama over the top in the Democratic primary and played a major role in his general election victory — has been building for months. The fight over the public option involves real policy substance, but it’s also a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach.

This is where “progressives” always go off the track. It is a large dose of hubris which allows them to convince themselves they’re a bigger group than they are, they’re a more influential group than they are and they have played a bigger role than they have.

While Krugman’s point about primary victories has some substance (activists turn out in primaries), in the general election, compared to George Bush and the economy’s one-two combo, they were a non-factor.

Rasmussen took a look at how Americans view themselves in terms of liberal, conservative and moderate. He found that those who consider themselves liberal range from 12% to 30% depending on the issue. On social issues 30% had a more liberal view, which could be the inclusion of libertarians – who normally share the progressive principles on social issues – boosting that number.

But when it came to the the issues of taxes, government spending and the regulation of private business, only 12% claim to be liberals – libertarians would and do not share liberal principles in that regard. And it is within that realm that the health care reform (and the cap-and-trade) debate is taking place.

The 12% are the hard-core “progressives” who, as I stated, think they’re a much larger group than they really are. And it is the political desires of this 12% – reflected in a Congressional leadership which is proportionately completely out of synch with the rest of the country – that is being resisted by the rest country that does not share its principles or ideals.

So there’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on the public option created such an uproar.

And they’re shocked and surprised by this? Two points. One, Obama knows progressives have nowhere else to go. So in a hunt for support for this legislation, where should he make his appeal? Well not with those who have nowhere else to go. He’s going to fashion his appeal to attract those who do have an option. Politics 101 for heaven sake.

Two – they elected an entirely political creature who “punked” them from the very beginning of his candidacy. The right has neither been shocked or surprised by anything Barack Obama has done since his inauguration, although they have certainly enjoyed pointing out how Mr. Hope and Change is the consummate old-style Chicago pol. It is fun to watch the so-called “reality based” community begin to figure out they’ve bought into a fantasy. In actuality, they “punked” themselves.

Krugman concludes:

So progressives are now in revolt. Mr. Obama took their trust for granted, and in the process lost it. And now he needs to win it back.

Really? Does he? See points one and two above. Winning their trust back, given the reality of the situation would most likely guarantee him a one-term presidency and Congressional Democrats an electoral shellacking in 2010. That is if he did what was necessary to actually win back their trust.

Face it, progressives – you’ve played your part, you’ve served your purpose and, in the big scheme of things, you’re a 12% constituency with no other place to go. This is big-boy politics and Obama knows he has to move away from much of what you demand to get this passed. And at this point, he’ll take just about anything that can be called health care or health insurance or whatever it’s called today. Or said more simply – the reality is politicians focus on gaining and maintaining power and they will throw anyone under the bus to do that if the situation requires it.

So lay down and take your medicine – Greyhound is ready when you are.

~McQ

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19 Responses to Krugman, Obama and “Progressive Revolt”

  • Well said McQ. From Jim Collins’ book on corporate arrogance “How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In” came 5 steps of corporate “flame out” that sounded eerily analogous to the Obama administration current spiral down the toilet bowl:

    1. Hubris born of success
    2. Undisciplined pursuit of MORE
    3. Denial of Risk & Peril
    4. Grasping for salvation
    5. Capitulation to irrelevance

    If Obama turns this around and wins bask the hearts of the country, it will be a Clintonian-sized accomplishment. And he is no Bill Clinton.

    • Clinton saved himself by tacking right. I don’t think Obama will do that, I see him as a true believer. Further, I’m not sure Obama can get away with it, I think he will have a hard time convincing moderates that he’s not a leftist, and I doubt the “progressives” will swallow like they did with Bill, since Bill did sell himself as a moderate, but they think Obama is their guy and this is their time.

    • As Peggy Noonan pointed out in her column this week (she’s readable again now that she’s stopped sniffing the Obama glue) what Obama needs to recapture momentum is a large dose of humility. She uses JFK’s humble admission to the American people that he screwed up the Bay of Pigs (Kennedy later joked that the more he fouled up, the more popular he got), and a chastened post-1994 midterm election Bill Clinton.

      Trouble is, arrogance is the defining characteristic of our current president. He is not capable of the kind of humility that could help change the tone of the debate. Obama and the people surrounding him are hard-left Chicago pols — and they are advising a president who has never experienced a political struggle, let alone a defeat.

      The good news is that this dynamic is bringing about a resurgence of Republican political fortune — perhaps good enough to take over one or both houses of Congress next year. The bad news (if Republicans regain power) is that Obama could spend 2011 and 2012 campaigning as a man “above the fray” again — exactly the position he enjoyed to win the presidency in the first place.

  • How sweet it is to watch the “progressives”* throwing a temper tantrum! They are like a spoiled kid who doesn’t get the shiny present he’s been expecting so much that he has come to believe that he DESERVES it. And why not? The dems hold majorities in the Congress, and TAO is in the Oval Office. They seem to believe that the majority of our people are in complete agreement with liberal policies and goals. They SHOULD be able to get anything and everything they want, right?

    They’ve tried blaming Republicans, insurance corporations and even MiniTru (!) for the failure of health care takeover to sail through the Congress. I suspect that the libs who still have a functioning brain cell or two know that this is laughable: the GOP CAN’T stop the democrat majority. Indeed, the libs were even jeering a couple of weeks ago that the GOP has lost every battle to TAO so far this year. Furthermore, there are plenty of liberal Republicans in Congress who would be only too glad to vote “aye” on a modest health care bill. The idea that MiniTru is doing ANYTHING to impede the passage of health care takeover… well… it’s nothing short of insane.

    So, who IS to blame?

    A famous president once had a famous sign on his desk: “The buck ends here.”

    Krugman is reminding libs of that.

    But McQ is right: at the end of the day, the libs have nowhere else to go.

    —–

    (*) Libs used to pugnaciously declare that they weren’t ashamed of being called “liberals”. I notice they don’t use the term themselves any more. “Progressive” sounds so much better, I suppose.

    • (*) Libs used to pugnaciously declare that they weren’t ashamed of being called “liberals”. I notice they don’t use the term themselves any more. “Progressive” sounds so much better, I suppose.

      They abandoned “progressive”, when they abandoned open support of eugenics and prohibition with which it had become associated.

      They are now rejecting “liberal”, having tarnished that word with fiscal irresponsibility. They hope that previous bad connotations of “progressive” have been forgotten, or have forgotten them themselves.

  • That’s right useful idiots! Shut up and take your medicine. But you’re used to it. After all, you dolts have been getting pwn3d since 2006. Everything you railed against, Congress has kept doing.

  • Krugman represents a group similar to the hardcore religious right. They feel that they represent a majority of their party and a majority of the country. They are heavily pandered to during primaries because they can be a major force in determining who gets to run for President. But once that step is complete they very quickly fade into irrelevance because their support is easy to take for granted– where else are they going to turn?

    The only difference is the imbalance between the number of them who report for the mainstream media, and the way they are portrayed. Guess which one is more “legitimate” in the eyes of the press?

  • Michael Barone recently wrote an article in which he pointed out, “there are more conservatives than Republicans and more Democrats than liberals”.

    Yeah, I’m not so sure that Barone has it right about there being more conservatives than Republicans. But to answer that, one must know what Barone considers is the definition of “conservative.”
    If one is pro-life, but also pro-union, like many Catholics might be, does that make them conservative? If one is pro-choice, but pro-capitalism, like many libertarians might be, does that make them conservative?

    Consider the election of John McCain as the Republican candidate – who by all rights cannot be considered a conservative by most QandO readers – and if, as the poll you site, only 37% reckon themselves conservative, doesn’t that suggest that there are more “Republicans” than there are “conservatives”?

    This is what happens when one tries to pigeonhole voters into one ideology or another. Many different people hold many different views on many different issues.

    Cheers.

    • “Consider the election of John McCain as the Republican candidate – who by all rights cannot be considered a conservative by most QandO readers – and if, as the poll you site, only 37% reckon themselves conservative, doesn’t that suggest that there are more “Republicans” than there are “conservatives”

      Given that there were open primaries which badly skewed the process, this is not the best example.

      • Given that there were open primaries which badly skewed the process, this is not the best example.

        Well, maybe it’s not the best example. But you’re high if you think that it was outside influence that tipped the scales for McCain. There was no “operation chaos.”

        Face it, it was the Republicans that nominated him.

    • Well, except for the fact that these are labels the respondents took themselves based on issues in the survey, yeah, you’re dead on Pogue. ;)

      • Wait. So did Barone use this survey to come to the conclusion that there are more conservatives than there are Republicans?

        I just don’t see how Barone could come to the conclusion that there are more conservatives than there are Republicans unless he considers anyone who might hold a conservative position on any particular issue.

        Again, if someone is pro-choice, pro-union, pro-government health care, but yet pro-Iraq war, does that mean that someone is a conservative???

        It seems a ridiculous and self-serving statement by Barone to suggest that there are more conservatives than Republicans but there are more Democrats than liberals/progressives.
        It’s an outright statement suggesting that there side is more principled than the other side. When there are examples abound suggesting that that isn’t true. One doesn’t have to look any further than the last eight years of the GOP.

        If it is true that there are more conservatives than there are Republicans, then why did we see the largest expansion in government in history (until now, of course) under the GOP control of all of the branches of government?
        What, were the conservatives just hiding in sleeper cells or something???

        Barone’s statement is ridiculous, and you know it.

        Cheers.

        • Apparently you don’t know Barone and Barone’s in depth knowledge about the electorate as demonstrated constantly on election nights as he sorts through the demographics district by district, poll by poll, etc. You may think Barone’s statement is ridiculous but anyone who has listened too and read him know better. GOP as he points out, doesn’t equal “conservative”. Democrat doesn’t equal “liberal”. Even you should know that. And in what most knowledgeable people acknowledge as a center-right nation, his statement makes perfect sense.

          But hey, it’s Friday and when you’re looking for a fight, knowing your subject isn’t a prerequiste, is it?

          Cheers.

    • Pogue-

      Consider the election of John McCain as the Republican candidate – who by all rights cannot be considered a conservative by most QandO readers – and if, as the poll you site, only 37% reckon themselves conservative, doesn’t that suggest that there are more “Republicans” than there are “conservatives”?

      You are “overthinking” this.

      All Barone is saying is that when you ask people to “self-identify” as conservative/moderate/liberal; they are much more likely to respond ‘conservative’ than ‘liberal’.

      Yet, when asked to “self-identify” as Dem/Repub, people are more likely to respond Democrat.

      Thus, “there are more conservatives than Republicans and more Democrats than liberals”.

      Here is an academic study of the internet examining this phenomenon.

  • 12%— O —-25% <— You are here

  • Yeah, I guess most people define their opposite (if they see things as opposites) as being all the negative things the imagine that side to be. So liberals would define conservative as pro religious, racist, anti poor, etc. And conservatives would define liberals as statist or even socialist, completely clueless about the “real” world.

    If you are a libertarian or a “classical liberal” then you would not fit in either of those two definitions. Amongst people like that, you are either right leaning or left leaning. Of course you then jump into the corollary argument about what left vs right is.

    As for me, I have a non white wife and live in her culture rather than the one I was born in. I leaned left before 9/11 and right afterwards (because I realized how stupid I was).

  • Sire, the Progressives are revolting
    Yea, and they smell too.