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A progressive's answer to Obama
  by Katrina vanden Heuvel


Too often, this president is so singularly focused on seeking common ground that he fails
to define his - and our - principles. The tax cut deal is just the most recent example. Obama
began those negotiations telegraphing his endgame, with eyes set unwaveringly on resolution.
He chose not to passionately articulate his values, or to define the GOP's, and in the aftermath
of the battle, he refused to explain where it's all meant to lead us.

This, he might conclude, is a minor complaint from a dismissible left. But the truth is, without
a president who is able - and willing to - lay out a clear, strong and principled argument, without
a president who will stand up for the ideals he ran on, even as he seeks resolution, the progressive
worldview becomes muted, and the conservative worldview validated.

Obama has reinforced the notion, not by compromise but by relative silence, that we should
fear changing tax rates in a time of economic crisis, even when economists of all stripes tell us
that tax cuts for the wealthy offer extraordinary cost and zero benefit to the nation.

He speaks most passionately not while lambasting a Republican Party that would
drown the middle class on behalf of the wealthy, but when criticizing the left
for not
offering support at a time when he doesn't deserve it.  
Because he rightly expects the
worst from the far right, he seems to have lost his sense of outrage toward them. The left,
in turn, receives his overcharged
and misplaced anger - suggesting an equivalence
between the two when, in truth, there is none.

The fact is, there is no monolithic left of the type Obama imagines. There are few on the
left who expect unwavering ideological purity, few who reject the notion of compromise
at any time. Most of us understand the structural limitations of our political system and
the need to achieve what is possible.

I would be happy if Obama showed up to work and did a half-decent job.

But asking Bitch and Boner what they're willing to accept isn't what a president is supposed to do.



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