Barack Obama and Joe Biden are upset at progressive Democrats, whose “divisive” griping about what we haven’t accomplished is blamed for the “enthusiasm gap” in November. But which Democrats are being divisive? As Rachel Maddow brilliantly exposed the other night, conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu are actively colluding with Republicans to hurt the Administration. And yet, we never hear a peep from the White House about how “divisive” these Senators are being in a tough election year – neither of whom are up for re-election. Progressives are always the first to get criticized for being sectarian when they try to hold the President accountable, but there is no price to pay for conservative Blue Dogs echoing Republican talking points.
“Maybe progressives and the middle class need to sort of face up to the fact that the President is not that much into them,” said Arianna Huffington on Rachel Maddow, “that he would rather hang out with Larry Summers, or flirt with Olympia Snowe, or play wargames late into the night with General Petraeus. He has compromised his own arch-narrative. Remember, he set up a deficit commission before he set up a jobs commission.”
Arianna may have been a bit harsh, but it reminded me of the blatant double standard we got from the White House during the health care debate. Obama refused to pressure conservative Democrats behind passing a public option, but when progressive groups tried doing that themselves Rahm Emanuel called them “fucking retarded.” Only after Joe Lieberman killed a reasonable compromise to the public option out of spite (because liberals were saying “good things about it”) did you finally see the White House get a backbone – as they pressured Harry Reid and other Democrats to cave to an extortionist’s flip-flop.
And that’s what we’re seeing now. Consider what Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska did the other day. Right when the Obama Administration is starting to show some spine by wanting to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, Nelson goes to the right-wing Heritage Foundation to give a speech on why he’s against it. At a time when Obama has elevated “bipartisanship” to a fetish, Nelson gave the Republicans exactly what they needed – a Democrat speaking out against the President, by paying a visit to the a think tank widely viewed as the birthplace of the modern conservative movement.
But while what Nelson did was annoying, Mary Landrieu is being downright destructive. The Lousiana Senator doesn’t like the idea of a moratorium on offshore oil drilling after the BP oil spill, so she has joined with Republicans to actively filibuster the confirmation of Obama’s Budget Director. What does a Budget Director have to do with offshore oil drilling? Nothing, but this is exactly the type of GOP obstructionist tactics we hear about all the time. And her Louisiana colleague up for re-election, Republican Senator David “Diaper Dave” Vitter most famous for being caught with a prostitute, is delighted.
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