Are they talking about the same president? Sadly for Obama, yes. -

Are they talking about the same president? Sadly for Obama, yes.


By coincidence, I happened to watch this ad for Sarah Palin’s political action committee right on the heels of the reading this essay by Eric Alterman in the Nation. Try it, if you like cognitive dissonance.

Palin’s ad, called Mamma Grizzlies, is getting attention for its presidential-campaign-ad quality and emphasis on women “risin’ up” and “Lotta women comin’ together.” There is a “Mom awakening,” says Palin, because “Moms just kinda know when something’s wrong…” It’s an emotionally-charged ad that has a bit of the grassroots-empowerment inspirational flavour that some of Obama’s ads had – except here in the context of gender rather than race. And it’s an effective theme for her in the context of a bumper crop of female GOP candidates this year (Nikki Haley, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman) many of whom Palin supported politically and financially through her SarahPac. But what struck me was the repetition of a key phrase that had nothing to do with gender and everything to do with articulating and seeding a critique of the Democratic Congress and Obama. The phrase is: “a fundamental transformation of America.” She doesn’t give any specifics – only mentions “these policies coming out of DC.” But repeats “fundamental transformation” and it sure sounds like something BIG.

Meanwhile, in the opening paragraphs of this essay, Eric Alterman, laments, grieves, and catalogues the Left’s many beefs with Obama whose presidency he declares a “disappointment.” The rest of the essay is a long-winded sort of absolution of the president (by blaming everyone else George W. Bush to the Supreme Court to Fox News) for Obama’s failure to do something BIGGER – as implied in the title, “Why a Progressive Presidency is Impossible for Now.”

Alterman comes up with a variety of theories for the Great Disappointment:

“It’s possible that he fooled gullible progressives during the election into believing he was a left-liberal partisan when in fact he is much closer to a conservative corporate shill. An awful lot of progressives, including two I happen to know who sport Nobel Prizes on their shelves, feel this way, and their perspective cannot be completely discounted.”

Compared to (one presumes) Paul Krugman, Alterman is more charitable:

Personally, I tend more toward the view expressed by the young, conservative New York Times columnist, Ross Douthat, that Obama is “a doctrinaire liberal who’s always willing to cut a deal and grab for half the loaf. He has the policy preferences of a progressive blogger, but the governing style of a seasoned Beltway wheeler-dealer.” Or as one of Obama’s early Chicago mentors, Denny Jacobs, explained to his biographer David Remnick, Obama is a pol who learned early that “sometimes you can’t get the whole hog, so you take the ham sandwich.”

And here, in a nutshell, is the Democrats’ challenge heading into the November mid-term elections — which, people who analyze such things say, are all about voter turnout at polls since voter participation drops significantly in a non-presidential year. If the Obama presidency amounts to one man’s disappointing “ham sandwich” and another woman’s scary “fundamental transformation of America,” that says something about who will stay home on Election Day and who will fire up the minivan and carpool to the polls.

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Are they talking about the same president? Sadly for Obama, yes.

  1. But [she] repeats “fundamental transformation” and it sure sounds like something BIG.

    …like a president who doesn't appear to be gifted with an unbroken DNA chain reaching all the way back to the Mayflower? Yeah, that's big, and clearly disturbing for Palin and her Tea Party acolytes.

    • Give it a rest. You can't defend Obama substantively, so you have to accuse his critics of this nonsense. Terrific.

      • Enter the Tea Lady for today's break…

    • From the Patriot Ledger – "Barrack Obama the Pilgrim? impossible as it sounds, it's true. The Hawaiian born, half-Kenyan president elect is a direct 13th generation descendant of one of the Plymouth colony's earliest settlers, Thomas Blossom.

  2. I love how Sarah has this uncanny ability to drive left wing nuts crazy – keep up the good work lady .. always makes my day to read the insults against her on web forums!

    • She doesn't. Every 'left wing nut' I've ever seen wants her to run. It's the right wing nuts who don't.

    • I've never seen anything like it. Remarkable how someone they consider to be stupid and ineffective receives so much of their focus and attention. It couldn't be that they might actually consider her to be a threat?

      I'm not quite sure why they don't just ignore her.

      • Well, the electorate's ignoring her.

      • Come on Dennis… what was the opinion of Conservative supporters about Dion?

        • Oh, so now you've elevated this woman, who you all think is stupid and irrelevant, to leader of the opposition, have you? Thanks for proving my point.

          • Careful, you are lumping me with a large group. For the record, I never thought of here as irrelevant, whenever the far right can put forward someone who runs against their stereotype that person is relevant. I also never thought of her as stupid, although I certainly did not think she was qualified either. My opinion is that she is not especially knowledgeable nor authentic. I do believe that she is a good actor and like any good actor has a good emotional understanding of her audience. Also like any good serial show, she started off playing a fairly straightforward and is now adding some nuance.

            Yes, I enjoyed Tina Fey bits… understanding all along that it was a somewhat unfair characterization. If something is funny and well done, I am happy to live with a little guilt. Speaking of Tina Fey it would be great if redid this skit, but with Paulin as President.

            [youtube skQuhoG7fFM youtube]

          • It's funny how some people believe that a backhanded compliment is somehow conciliatory. I don't know why you have to characterize her as insincere or an "actor". I guess you are threatened by her, too.

          • I was not being conciliatory at all, I was being direct, honest and accurate. To continue in the theme… I find you a boor, a writer unable to comprehend the language and a commenter with very little to say.

          • OK, then please tell me how exactly she's being an "actor", which also suggests that people who support her are a bunch of dupes, right?

            I mean, someone so precise with language and meaning should have absolutely no problem explaining himself, right?

            And, for the record, I guess I'm added to the list of conservatives you feel threatened by, right? lol

          • I think she an actor because I believe she is more intelligent than she initially let on. (To help you out, I certainly can't prove this since I have never spoken with her.) I note that the basis of her appeal is primarily emotional (or moral if you prefer); she is certainly not one for technical policy discussions. I think at times she intentionally de-elevates the intellectual tone of debates to play to her strength.

            I think those that support her agree with the directions she would like to take her country and see her as an important and inspirational leader. I think there are simple, minded dupes among her supporters. I also think their are contingents of nasty racists and angry Christianists among that group. I believe there are also many sincere, intelligent, principled people who probably view Palin's public persona in the same way the equivalent group of Liberal-minded intellectuals used to view Chretien's "little guy from Shawinigan" act. As an aside, Chretien also intentionally de-elevated the intellectual tone of certain debates to play to his strength.

            Finally, for the record, you can add Sarah Palin to those conservatives I feel "threatened by", in the sense that I disagree with both her politics and her approach to politics while at the same time recognizing their effectiveness. To be precise, I am not threatened by the idea of Sarah Pallin as President because I don't think it is likely. What is certainly true, is that she has galvanized an impressive money machine and she is adept as using it. For a Canadian list that "threatens" me, you could put Baird, Poilievre, Moore & Clement on such a list along with the PM. I really can't imagine any rational for considering you for such a list.

          • There you go again, mentioning "racists" and "dupes" among here supporters. Why? This is a typical leftist tactic.

            Why does she have to "act" stupid? Is it because her followers are stupid?

            It never ceases to amaze me how some here are more desperate to defend their tactics here, once challenged, then they are present sober argumentation in the first place.

          • It is important for politicians to be able to establish a connection with voters. To show that they "get it".

            That is why all the conservative attacks on Ignatieff portray him as "elitist" (and he's not helping his case). The conservatives want to be the guys that know what the working guy is going through, while portraying Ignatieff as someone who thinks so highly of himself, he'd never be able to understand the average Canadian.

            The same principle applies to Palin, I believe.

          • I think Palin's supporters are a heterogeneous group. I don't think many white supremacists are happy about a black president, and David Duke practically predicted the emergence of the Tea Party movement. (To preempt, that does not mean I think a typical Tea Partier or Palin supporter is racist.)

            Chretien was a master at lowering the intellectual details in a debate where he felt it worked to his advantage. He would "spontaneously" throw away carefully prepared notes (presumably full of lots of technical details), and then proceed to talk directly to the crowd, from the Heart. I noticed that his diction actually got worse on these occasions and the number of odd idioms went up. I think Palin does the same type of thing, when she goes all mavericky in her speeches.

          • You're kinder than I am. I think a typical Tea Partier or Palin supporter is racist. Not all of them, but the majority share of the body mass. Without harnessing that anger, there would be no Tea Party movement — it would have fizzled out a few weeks after it started.

          • and this is typical of today's left, who spread far more hatred in society than anyone in the Tea Party movement.

            In fact, these attacks from leftists on the movement say a lot. How dare regular folk rise up against leftists policies! We have to smear the heck out of them and force voters back into obedience, you know!

            Then leftists wonder why it's so easy to paint them as arrogant, undemocratic, and completely out of touch.

          • There you go again – associating a movement that's not leftist with David Duke. Unbelievable. You can't even quit while you think you're ahead. You have to continue with these backhanded compliments and underhanded smears, don't you. Then attack me for simply pointing it out. Oh yeah, according to you, I can't read properly. My God, what a movement.

    • Yeah, that's a great set of criteria to choose the leader of the free world. Her ability to attract negative comments from strangers you disagree with in online forums.

      • Who said that? And it's not strangers. Very public liberals and leftists are saying the nastiest things about her. It's just fascinating to watch. That's all.

        • Psiclone's original statement outlined how he loves the fact that Palin drives "left wing nuts crazy." I've read similar comments here (see Jim below) and in the Globe & Mail forums. Psiclone wasn't saying she has good ideas or excellent qualifications, it's all about how much she gets under the skin of those who disagree with her (and presumably Psiclone). Given that she's a contender for the Repub 2012 nomination, you might think it would be a little more about ideas or something. And Psiclone also referred specifically to web forums, so it seems he/she was referring to the other 'strangers' here.

          Otherwise, I don't disagree with you that it is interesting to watch the reaction she gets. I don't like her myself, but I'm not going to slag her here or anywhere else. What's the point? The Joe McGinnisses of the world are just feeding the machine.

          Of course, people aren't just responding to her, they're responding to the people responding, and downhill it goes.

  3. So Palin speaks at Tea Party rallies and on cable news, railing AGAINST Obama's policies because they are radical and changing the fabric of America – then runs an ad calling FOR “a fundamental transformation of America”?

    That's like conservatives calling for smaller government while vastly expanding, um, government.

    I heart conservatives.

    • Ahh, scratch that … she's against a fundamental transformation … mea culpa. I was confused by the article accompanying the clip.

      She does suggest we should respect the will of the people … which is odd, given her opposition to Obama's win.

      I still heart conservatives, though.

      • By respecting the will of the people, I suspect that what she's describing is Obama's failure to live up to his campaign of hope and change, and his ramming through policies like health care that Americans are clearly against.

        God, I "heart' leftist agitators!

        • LOL but 'change' is what the tea-baggers don't want. They 'want their country back'.

          Their white christian country that bombs all other countries.

    • No. The fundamental transformation of America she's referring to is Obama's, and how the "Mama Grizzlies" don't like what it means for their children and future generations.

      • There ain't really that many Mama Grizzlies out there.

        See here.

        • Yes, and here is what it says:

          Such reaction to Palin's endorsements among voters nationwide seems quite different than the positive effect that Palin's endorsements may have had upon Republican candidates

          There's gotta be some amount of them Mama Grizzlies out there who are listening.

          Indeed, on the major issues since Obama has been president, she's pretty much been a leading indicator of voter sentiment in general. Maybe that's why the left fears her so much. I don't know.

        • Bush arguably won in 2004 due to moms worried about security.


  4. Palin drives the liberals nuts, so keep up the good work!! Obama has surrounded himself with such controversy and poor judgment in all his policies that he has definitely lost the independents (more every day) and only holding on to the far left and black vote. He is definitely in a political quagmire brought on by himself and his Chicago mafia advisers. Obama is not listening to the people but instead catering to the far left which spells disaster for him. We need people that really love America to be elected and clean house and really "drain the swamp" which would be our current congress. Change is coming!!

    • Presidents have to do tough things. Weekly polls don't matter, terms do.

      The 'far left' btw are the biggest complainers about Obama. They regard him as a Republican.

      And what you think any president can do to 'clean house' is a mystery. He takes who he's sent.

  5. It's interesting how Obama is losing both independents and his liberal base. You usually sacrifice one for the other. In this case, he seems to be sacrificing both. That's quite an accomplishment!

    One thing about Bill Clinton is that he seemed to know the American people, his base, and how to bridge the two with broadly based policy outreach. Yet American liberals clearly abandoned that approach in favour of someone, Obama, who still managed to alienate them. Irony's something, ain't it?

    • Clinton wasn't that popular either. You're just claiming he looks good in retrospect.

      • Nola, he won two elections and had a 60% approval rating leaving office. I'm not a big fan, but he had enduring political skills that opponents underestimated at their own peril. Obama could learn a thing or two, or three. After all, his greatest experience for the job was writing a couple of books about himself and campaigning. You'd think that'd instill some humility in the guy, but no…..

    • His job approval is not quite that low. He's at 45% in job approval. He was elected with 53%. So he's lost 8% of his voters. Most of those are independents. Reports that his liberal base is not happy are simply not true, IMO. In fact, liberals are only about 20% of the electorate, and I think they're happy with health care and the enlargement of government, they're just worried that the gravy train has ended so they're making noise for more.

      • Actually, he started out with a job approval rating of about 70%. I believe no president's numbers have fallen as quickly and as deeply as his have. So, I suppose even you would believe that a 25% drop is huge, must involve at least some of his base, and can't ignore report after report coming from former supporters about their disappointment with their former saviour. Just read Ms. Savage's original blog post, which also discusses depressed turnout from an unexcited base on the left, and bulging support from an energized base on the right.

        I don't think many Canadians, even politicos, follow very closely the details of events south of the border. So, the saviour's fall may come as a bit of a shock to some, I realize.

        Personally, I don't think he's fallen off of any edge, and a recovering economy could yet justify his policies, and reform his image with Americans. But I think he has a lot of work to do, it's all uphill, and he doesn't seem quite ready to acknowledge some of his problems, similar to some of his admirers on here.

        • The 70% included 17% who never voted for him in the first place. So no, the drop need not involve anyone in his base, although it depends on what you mean by his base. If you mean part of the 20% of Americans who call themselves liberals, those people will of course complain and whine and express disappointment, but when it comes time to vote they will vote for him and the Dems.

          The important votes he has lost are independents. They have swung away from him and will not be voting for him or the Dems again this fall.

          a recovering economy could yet justify his policies

          Nothing could justify his policies. If the economy recovers soon, it will be despite what he has done.

          • To independents, of course, and to his supporters, etc. Then again, maybe you're right. Maybe Americans are tired of irresponsible fiscal policies. Maybe they'll vote to repeal health care in the upcoming mid-terms – regardless of economic indicators.