The left of the left -- at least as represented by some of its commentators hovering around the Democratic Party -- has a choice: make a New Years' resolution to rejoin the reality-based community, or head for its own version of Tea Party la-la Land negativity.
Or put it this way: commentators like Paul Krugman owe President Obama an apology, an "I was wrong" about the economy, the direction of our country, the success of President Obama's methods of "compromise" (as opposed to their's of "bold" ideological intransigence...)
Why? Because 2011 will see the USA rebounding, the Democratic Party doing well in 2012, the country in boom times by 2013 and the President having a great second term.
I happen to be a white fifty-eight-year-old former Republican. I explain about why I left the far right movement my family helped found in my forthcoming book Sex, Mom and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway
We find ourselves in the position of survivors of a shipwreck clinging to a life raft. President Obama is that "life raft." Our young president is leading us at a time of extraordinary peril. He and we face overwhelming challenges including two wars and a financial crisis he had dumped into his lap by fools.
When we hear that jobless numbers are going down faster than expected, that shoppers spent money over the holidays, that economic forecasts are being revised upward and so on, it's time for a reassessment of the President's critic's claims of impending doom because of his many alleged "mistakes." (These include such "facts" as the accusations that Obama "sold out" to Wall Street, is "too ready to compromise" etc., etc.)
A reassessment should come from what might be called the Krugamites. They could do what Rachel Maddow did when she said "I was wrong" while speaking of how she'd given up hope that the President could pull out his year end list of remarkable victories.
Krugman never forgave Obama for winning the election. Krugman's support for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama was clear in 2008. He argued that Clinton's economic proposals were more progressive than Obama's. Krugman -- and the Left of the left -- have been out to get President Obama ever since. If they weren't they would have admitted by now that time and again, Obama has outsmarted his opponents-- including them! They said the economy would tank: it didn't. Obama's policies are working.
I'm beginning to think that some people on the Left of the left (and there are lots more of them than just Krugman) have such an ego claim to having been smarter than President Obama that they really would rather the news stay bad to prove them right.
While President Obama brilliantly cajoled 13 Republicans to join every Democratic senator to ratify the New Start nuclear arms treaty with Russia, adding (as the Times put it) "the capstone to what now shapes up to be a remarkably successful legislative agenda for President Obama's first two years..."
While President Obama signed the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell into law
While President Obama orchestrated the push back in the Senate--that then unanimously approved a bill to pay for the medical care of workers who cleaned up ground zero...
the President also kept proving that his rabid critics on the Right, who have been working so hard to undermine his presidency at every turn, are dead wrong...
But the Left is also being shown up because it kept carping no matter what the President did.
The President keeps proving himself smarter that his detractors. (This must be tough to take for Krugman. When you are a Nobel Prize winner in economics and stake your claim on a place in history by second guessing a man who -- it's turning out -- is smarter, even about your own field, than you are, it's time to prepare to eat crow. Or if you're the leading Times columnist and keeper of the progressive flame, as Frank Rich is, and here's the first black president proving your dire political predictions wrong every other week or so... you might finally admit that you get the point: President Obama is a political master.)
Obama's lefty critics are smart enough to know history won't be any kinder to them than it's been, say, to the "art experts" who derided Vincent van Gogh. I think they also are beginning to get defensive knowing that they may WOW readers now but that history looks like it might not be on their side re Obama after all. They seem to be blind to the fact that the President is a genuine progressive but not a fundamentalist crank. He's proving that he'd rather get something actually done than achieving nothing while grandstanding, as do the ideologues of both the left and right.
President Obama also keeps proving that, compared to the talking-head Left of the Democratic Party he knows how to get things done that actually change lives and matter-- health care reform, actual gay rights (instead of mere slogans), actual education reform, etc. President Obama seems to be the only grownup, not to mention the smartest person, in many a room, or at least any figurative "room" where his detractors gather in the press, on TV and in blogs.
The President's Right Wing Republican critics are now thoroughly exposed as the hard-hearted empty suits and haters that they are.
President Obama's Lefty critics look more and more like petulant teenagers who are too small to admit that they are wrong.
Score One to President Obama, Zero to his critics.
We are a bitterly divided people. In these circumstances normal political squabbles must be laid aside in order to unite in a common effort for our survival. Patriotism demands this. So does common sense.
Be patient, realizing that the challenge facing our country is unprecedented because it combines economic, social and military problems coalescing into one of the most toxic periods of history any president has faced. And President Obama is facing this moment well.
And if you like the President you'll be heartened by checking out this tribute.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of the forthcoming book SEX, MOM and GOD: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway