I don't understand why these articles keep getting written.  Moreover, I don't understand why they can keep getting written.  Did progressives really think they'd woken up in Sweden on November 5th? 

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous - and some just flat-out
angry - that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on
Cabinet jobs and policy choices.


Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the
wealthy and take on Big Oil. He's hedged his call for a quick drawdown
in Iraq. And he's stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts
of the left.


Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at
being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new
boss looks like the old boss.


"He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with
a centrist to right cabinet. But we do hope that before it's all over
we can get at least one authentic progressive appointment," said Tim
Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America.


OpenLeft blogger Chris Bowers went so far as to issue this plaintive
plea: "Isn't there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic
administration?"


Not if you define an "actual Democratic administration" as one that is closer to OpenLeft than the median voter, no.  Take comfort that we're probably not going to get an "actual Republican administration" either, for the same reason. 

For a movement that grew out of the anti-corruption campaigns of the late nineteenth century, and was nurtured in the hothouse built by domestic Communism and Socialism, modern progressivism seems curiously unwilling to think about, much less cope with, institutionalist models of politics.  Enacting legislation is not a matter of getting a president and a fillibuster-proof majority, unless you happen to have a congress filled with career-suicide bombers.  It is a matter of getting a fillibuster-proof majority and a bill that either no one cares about, or is supported by close to a majority of voters.  (Actually, it's much more complicated than that.  But as a general rule, this simple model is much more effective than believing that shortly before electing Barack Obama, America collectively read Gunnar Myrdal and shifted about 20 points to the left.)

Occasionally, you can get politicians to buck the will of the voters when the matter is serious enough, as with the bailout.  But this is very rare.  And when you do buck the will of the voters in order to do something that most economists agree is vital to the health of the nation, apparently, many progressives get mad and say ridiculous things:

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous - and some just flat-out
angry - that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on
Cabinet jobs and policy choices.



Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the
wealthy and take on Big Oil. He's hedged his call for a quick drawdown
in Iraq. And he's stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts
of the left.



Now it's Obama's Cabinet moves that are drawing the most fire. It's not
just that he's picked Clinton and Gates. It's that liberal Democrats
say they're hard-pressed to find one of their own on Obama's team so
far - particularly on the economic side, where people like Tim Geithner
and Lawrence Summers are hardly viewed as pro-labor.


"At his announcement of an economic team there was no secretary of
labor. If you don't think the labor secretary is on the same level as
treasury secretary, that gives me pause," said Jonathan Tasini, who
runs the website workinglife.org. "The president-elect wouldn't be
president-elect without labor."


He also wouldn't be president-elect without the drivers who piloted the campaign bus, but this is not a reason to make bus drivers the central concern of his new administration.  Frankly, the knowledge that there are such lunatics out there, but that Obama is ignoring them, has heartened me greatly.

Mostly, though, it's just dire warnings that he couldn't have been elected without progressives, so he'd better not bite the hand that feeds him.  This sort of ridiculous posturing pervades every post campaign let down.  Oh, yes, Barack Obama couldn't have been elected without progressives.  He also couldn't have been elected without lower-middle class Moms who like to drive to Wal-Mart in their SUVs to buy enormous flat-screen televisions for the family room.  Guess which group is larger? 

First rule of politics:  small groups get favors from the politicians they support only to the extent that it does not annoy large groups who voted for those politicians.  Check the progressive agenda.  See which bits do not annoy large groups who voted for Obama.  That is what the progressives are going to get.

The other group who is in denial, of course, is the conservatives.  While the progressives are shocked, shocked that Obama hasn't made Bill Ayers attorney general and Ingrid Newkirk Secretary of Agriculture, many of the conservatives who were mad about my supporting Obama continue to assure me that he is making card check and confiscatory taxation the centerpiece of his administration.    Maybe the hard conservatives and the progressives should be consoling each other.

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