The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank (12/6/09) thinks there’s something wrong with left-wing critics of Barack Obama.As his lead put it:
Some parishioners in the Church of Obama discovered last week that their spiritual leader is a false prophet.
Milbank startswith Michael Moore, who wrote an open letter urging Obama not to escalate the Afghanistan war.This makes no sense to Milbank, since Obama never said he’d withdraw troops.Well, yes. I suspect many of Obama’s critics–maybeeven Michael Moore–are aware of that.Moore also supports single-payer healthcare, and wishes Obama would too. Does that mean that continuing that advocacy with Obama in the White Houseis a waste of time?Or is the idea thatno one should ever advocate for any political cause that upsets the power structure?
Maybe that’d be OKwith Dana Milbank. As he put it, Obama is an “incrementalist…. His Afghanistan policy, likewise, is above all a pragmatic, nonideological strategy.” Opposing that policy, then, is ideological and anti-pragmatic.
Milbank closes with this:
You’d think his supporters might applaud this sort of thoughtful, methodical leadership as a repudiation of the Bush style of government by political theory. Instead, they’re using words such as “O’Bomber” to describe the president. MoveOn.org launched a petition drive against the policy. Code Pink, the group that heckled Bush officials for years, heckled Obama advisers on Capitol Hill last week. The liberal Web publisher Arianna Huffington told Charlie Rose that the policy “puts into question his whole leadership.”
Moveon’s petition isnot “against thepolicy”–their petition, if anything, supports it, since it only calls on Congress “to push the Obama administration to outline firm benchmarks and a binding timeline.”
Code Pink isagainst the war;the fact that they’re still against is a sign of their consistency. Milbank might see the process by which Obama decided to escalate the war “thoughtful,” but if resulting policyis one you oppose,you continue tooppose it.
Arianna Huffington, likewise, is saying she opposes Obama’s decision, based on a variety of factors.Milbank’s point, at facevalue,is that these people should have all been clear-eyed about Obama’sposition. That’s obviously true–and some of them were.But one gets the sensethat his real point is that those to theleft of Obama shouldjust leave him alone.