Why Aren't Democrats Supporting Obama?

02/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Jacob Heilbrunn Author, "They Knew They Were Right: the Rise of the Neocons"

Imagine this scenario: president-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt is weeks away from entering office. He's indicated that he will offer a sweeping plan to revive the economy, but leading Democratic Senators are already sniping that he's being too cautious or not bold enough. Meanwhile, liberal columnists are piling on to criticize him.

Sound crazy? It's exactly what's happening to Barack Obama. Obama hasn't even set foot in the Oval Office and already windbags such as John Kerry and Tom Harkin are fulminating about his economic plan. Has it eluded Kerry's attention that Obama accomplished something he failed to do four years ago, namely, win the presidency, and not by a small margin?

The GOP must be chortling. Republicans don't have to attack Obama; the Democrats are already doing it for them.

This is nuts. No doubt Democrats have a tradition of tearing down their own presidents -- recall Joseph Lieberman, among others, sanctimoniously denouncing Bill Clinton from the well of the Senate -- but usually it takes a few years. Not now.

This is nuts. Obama won a historic victory that Democrats could only dream about a a few months ago. Eight years of Bush-Cheney, you might think, would be enough to unite the party. During that time, the Republicans displayed tremendous unity, allowing George W. Bush to wreak havoc upon the country, driving it into an economic and foreign policy ditch.

Obama promises to do the opposite. No, his economic plan isn't perfect. But what plan ever is? The fact is that Obama is in the process of laying out a program that forms an excellent starting point, a mixture of tax cuts, including cutting the payroll tax which will immediately help stimulate the economy, and public works and investments that can help to rebuild an infrastructure that has been gutted by the Bush-Cheney regime.

Obama, you might think, deserves praise, not condemnation. And you'd be right. Obama is the best thing that's happened to the party in decades. It seemed like Democrats began to realize that after he thrashed John McCain.

But no. The posturing and preening taking place in Washington isn't alarming. It's nauseating. Who would have thought that Democrats would try to destroy Obama's presidency before it's even begun?