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Post Partisan
Posted at 12:43 PM ET, 09/19/2011

Democratic panic: Enough with the circular firing squad


Page A5 of The Post yesterday threw me into full conniption yesterday. The story at the top of the page was about hand-wringing among progressives over whether or how much to support President Obama’s reelection. And the report at the bottom of the page was about how Ralph Nader and Cornel West are banding together to field a primary challengeragainst the president. While the former elicited eye rolls, the latter had me spitting expletives.

Listen, people. If you want to ensure Obama’s defeat to either the King of Death Row, the man of malleable beliefs or whoever else the far right deems acceptable for the Republican Party, keep the circular firing squad going.

Like any politician, Obama made promises to get votes. And like any president, he learned rather quickly how fast promises can splatter against the wall of governing. The closing of Guantanmo Bay, mentioned in the liberal-hand-wringing story, is a perfect example. Obama was right to want to close it. The detention camp is a blot on America’s reputation and values. But as an April 23 story in The Post detailed, closing it wasn’t that simple for a whole host of reasons. That progressives are still holding a grudge about this is the very definition of masochism.

Then there’s the Batman and Robin of liberal discontent. Nader didn’t think there was enough of a difference between George W. Bush (R-Tex.) and Al Gore (D-Tenn.). So he got into the 2000 presidential contest and siphoned off enough votes from Gore to aid in the election of Bush. Meanwhile, West continues to rail against Obama’s economic and war policies. His case would be worthy of hearing, were his protestations not marred by his continued whining about not getting Inauguration tickets.

Obama hasn’t been perfect. He’s relied too much on oratory to carry the day. He tried too long to reason with Republicans who were more interested in recalcitrance. And he was too reluctant to ride herd over Congress to get his agenda passed. That all appears to have changed with his speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 8. Ever since then, the president has been hammering Congress to “pass this bill” in barnstorming events in swing states and the back yards of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). No doubt Democrats will be pleased by the feisty tone and tenor of the president’s remarks this morning in his Rose Garden presentation of his deficit-reduction plan.

Going forward, some Democrats and progressives might be tempted to nitpick Obama’s plans to reduce the deficit and increase job creation. But they must heed this warning from E.J. Dionne today. “[I]f Democrats focus more on their areas of disagreement,” he writes, “more time will be lost, and Obama’s jobs campaign will be stalled again.” So, enough of the whining. Enough of the plotting of a primary challenge to Obama.

As Dionne points out, “However justified their past grievances might be, they have a powerful collective interest in seeing the fighting Obama get his new act off the ground.” And possibly prevent the election of someone who couldn’t care less about their interests or causes.

By  |  12:43 PM ET, 09/19/2011

 
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