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Krugman Throws Down Gauntlet for Progressives

Activists get ready for a long-brewing civil war on the left

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Paul Krugman's war cry this morning has progressives fired up for rebellion. Months of disappointment with Obama have spilled over this week as Democrats are in a row over the public option and the far-left, he says, "is now in revolt."

Krugman rattles off a litany of progressive grievances:

  • "Let's be clear: the supposed alternative [to the public option], nonprofit co-ops, is a sham.
  • On "torture and indefinite detention," Obama has failed to "challenge or change Bush administration policy"
  • "And then there's the matter of the banks."

Krugman's weight as the mainstream standard-bearer of progressives has caused blogs to mobilize. The right is cheering the possibility of internecine bloodshed among liberals. Many on the left are heeding Krugman's call.

The best opinions so far:

  • Obama's Playing Too Much Politics, affirms Glenn Greenwald in Salon. "More than any betrayal on a specific issue, it is Obama's seeming eagerness to serve the interests of those who have 'run Washington for far too long.'"
  • Frustration Is Going Mainstream, says John Aravosis at AmericaBlog. "The administration didn't care when the Netroots tried to warn them the past eight months, and long before that, that they were hurting the cause, and in the process, hurting their boss."
  • Krugman Is Rallying the Clueless, rebuts Isaac Chotiner at the New Republic. "For the first time in a long time, Krugman is displaying sympathy for voters who are completely clueless (i.e. voters who think the stimulus and the bank bailouts are the same thing)....When people are completely uninformed about policy, following their lead is probably not the wisest course."
  • Obama Has Cut Off All Support, cheers Peter Wehner at the conservative National Review Online. "What Obama has done, in only eight months, is two things at once: resuscitated the liberal, tax-and-spend image of Democrats among the general public while also provoking a revolt among his 'progressive' base."
  • Progressives Are Marginal and Self-Important, declares Bruce McQuain at QandO. "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."

For months, pundits have debated the decline, the break-up, and the confusion of the Republican party that was brought to a pitch in the battle after Rush Limbaugh's speech at CPAC. But conservatives' spirits are lifting. Reihan Salam is not the only one who smells the possibility for a revival:

The right is coming back...If the war gave the left a sense of purpose, the exploding federal debt is doing the job for the right.
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