Do progressives need reminding that the current crop of Republicans are intent on scuttling New Deal legislation and pushing the country further to the right than Mussolini’s Italy?
Of course not, but this doesn’t stop “centrists” from scolding those of us who can’t stomach Barack Obama’s refusal to fight on our behalf. Yes, we’re appalled that Paul Ryan and company are trying to rip down the social safety net and reduce workers to virtual serfdom, but we’re even more appalled that Obama, instead of launching a spirited counterattack on these borderline fascists, has repeatedly given ground without firing a shot.
Bill Boyarsky of Truthdig recently conceded that Obama has disappointed “many supporters”:
He let the Republicans push him around for too long. While the nation is slowly recovering from the recession, the Obama stimulus was too small. He gave away too much to Wall Street in the Dodd-Frank financial industry regulatory legislation… But looking at his accomplishments in the face of the recession and a reluctant Congress, he’s done pretty well.
A wide gulf separates centrist Democrats from those Dems who think Obama and his friends have betrayed the principles that distinguish Dems from Republicans. Declaring that Obama has done “pretty well” compared to what a Republican would have done is like saying, “Obama’s not that good, but a Republican would have been downright evil. Is that what you progressives would prefer?”
Boyarsky defends Obama by pointing to the latter’s healthcare reform bill, which many progressives think is a disaster because it strengthens the corrupt insurance companies at the heart of poor healthcare in America. He mentions that Obama saved GM and Chrysler, but not that wages and benefits for workers at those companies were drastically slashed, or that Obama has done nothing to strengthen or even defend labor unions.
No one in recent years has done more than Obama to encourage the suspicion that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties. Boyarsky’s pathetic arguments do nothing but reinforce this suspicion.