Can Obama Repair Relations With Liberals?

The president does Democratic damage control following the tax cut deal

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With many on the left still smarting over the tax-cut compromise, President Obama is making moves to repair his relationship with the Democratic base. The Washington Post reports that the White House has been reaching out to liberal bloggers, environmentalists, civil rights groups, and labor leaders in an attempt to shore up support among key progressive groups. Here's a look at what Obama has been doing lately, and how his actions have been received.

  • Obama's Tête-à-Tête With Labor  Politico reports that on Friday, "the president met at the White House with a dozen labor leaders... to discuss how they can join forces to promote economic growth and job creation." It's not clear what, specifically, Obama and the labor representatives talked about, but Politico notes that "labor wants to hear about the president's plan for spending cuts, and it wants White House assurances that he will resist Republicans' probable demands to trim programs that aid the poor." Unions are also looking for follow-up on Obama's "call for $50 billion in upfront infrastructure spending to help create jobs" from a few months ago. "We want to hear more about that $50 billion," a union official told Politico.

  • Obama to Blacks: The Tax-Cut Deal Is Actually Great  "An e-mail distributed to black leaders declared the package a 'major victory for African-Americans,' arguing that a series of middle-class tax cuts will give 'targeted' aid to minorities," reports The Washington Post. "The outreach to African Americans came after broad opposition to the tax deal from members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Black lawmakers argued the bill would ultimately hurt the poor because the costs threatened to cut into social safety-net programs." The Post notes that "polls show African Americans remain steadfastly loyal to Obama, but he needs that group to remain enthusiastic and turn out in big numbers to win in key battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania and Florida."

  • Will it Work?  Peter Wallsten for The Washington Post notes that not everyone on the left is thrilled with Obama's latest efforts. "A number of liberal activists said in interviews that the tax deal further depleted their confidence in the president, and they worry he will give ground on other issues to work with newly empowered Republican leaders and shore up the political middle," writes Wallsten. Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas said of the White House, "It's clear that they want to double down on their capitulation strategy." Firedoglake founder Jane Hamsher said that the president's conferences are like being in a "veal pen."

  • Obama's Not Fooling the Left Anymore, declares Howie Klein at the blog DownWithTyranny. "Obama has been a big disappointment to many progressives who see him as an essentially conservative insider--which is what he was as a senator, so no surprises there for anyone who had bothered to watch his voting record." Klein scoffs at Wallsten's description of a "cordial" meeting between Obama and labor leaders. "Cordial isn't good under these circumstances--not with this president who has been able to use 'cordial' as a cudgel to wield against any semblance of a progressive agenda."

  • I Think I See the Problem Here, writes Melissa McEwan at Shakesville. "I'm no highly-paid Democratic strategist, but it seems to me that the administration's constant need to 'reach out and shore up the base' would be significantly diminished if the president stopped governing like a Republican."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.