I want to double (or triple) down on these three posts by Yglesias. They're all somewhat themed around the president's job plan. As Matt rightly notes, this obsession with the president's want of liberalism really needs to confront the hard facts of Senators and congressmen who say things like this:
As he demands Congress quickly approve his ambitious proposal aimed at reviving the sagging economy, many Democrats on Capitol Hill appear far from sold that the president has the right antidote to spur major job growth and turn around their party's political fortunes."Terrible," Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told POLITICO when asked about the president's ideas for how to pay for the $450 billion price tag. "We shouldn't increase taxes on ordinary income. ... There are other ways to get there.""That offset is not going to fly, and he should know that," said Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu from the energy-producing Louisiana, referring to Obama's elimination of oil and gas subsidies. "Maybe it's just for his election, which I hope isn't the case.""I think the best jobs bill that can be passed is a comprehensive long-term deficit-reduction plan," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), discussing proposals to slash the debt by $4 trillion by overhauling entitlement programs and raising revenue through tax reforms. "That's better than everything else the president is talking about -- combined."
A few things to note about this, which speak to the depth of the structural issue here. One is that Delaware is not a conservative state. Nor is it a swing state. The Democratic presidential candidate won there in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. President Obama got 62 percent of the vote there. And even so, Carper is attacking the president's jobs agenda from the right. What's more, I think the most plausible possible account of this is that Carper genuinely believes that the best jobs bill that can be passed is a comprehensive long-term deficit-reduction plan because if he's not expressing a sincerely held belief, it's a bit hard to see the political angle here.Now on to Webb and Landrieu, what strikes me about their remarks is that they're being mean. Webb isn't respectfully disagreeing with the administration's proposed offsets, he's calling them "terrible." Landrieu is calling the sincerity of the president's motives into question. For me, it's difficult to imagine parallel behavior on the other side. Conservative states sometimes elect wishy-washy moderate Democratic senators, but when North Dakota or Alabama sends a Republican to Washington, they send a solid conservative. And while your Scott Browns and Olympia Snowes sometimes don't vote with the party leadership, they rarely attack the leadership in quasi-personal terms. They don't suggest that Mitch McConnell has "terrible" ideas that he's pursuing for low political reasons.
If you're a progressive and you feel that the political system isn't doing what you want, it's misguided to look at this as a personal failure of elected officials. It's, if anything, a personal failure of you and people like you. Justice and equality doesn't just happen because it's nice, people need to make it happen. If it's not happening, then its advocates are failing.