Judging from the headline, "Liberals, Lay Off Obama," Peter Beinart, in The Daily Beast, wants to make an argument about why liberal criticism of Barack Obama is counter-productive. He ends up making a different argument: Obama, it seems, is governing as a liberal, and doing a good job of it.
If he gets health-care reform, Obama will have done more to rebuild the American welfare state in one year than his two Democratic predecessors, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, did in a combined twelve.
And that's true. And lots of liberals are happy. But that doesn't mean they ought to accept this blueberry pie and close their mouths.
I don't know whether Beinart opposes the ambient pressure that Obama gets from his left. He shouldn't. As noted before, it seems to me that liberals criticize Barack Obama more than conservatives criticized George W. Bush until the last few years of his presidency. Why that is, I don't know for sure. It may be that Bush found a way to truly unite conservatives. Or it may be that the political poohbahs in the administration went out of their way to paint opponents as disloyal. Or that, because Democrats were the out-group for so long, and their hopes for Obama were so high, that they cannot be anything but critical.
But what's clear to me is that the country could have used more criticism during the Bush era. Specifically, criticism from within his party, using the regular conservative social cascade mechanisms like talk radio, might have tempered the excessive hubris that became the Bush administration's biggest blind spot. Bush wasn't a god. Elections aren't -- can't be -- the only means of holding powerful interests accountable.