As the Left Turns

Our conservative friends have been feeling quite dispirited for the past five years or so, for obvious reasons, but these days we are noticing a growing glumness among our liberal pals as well.
There has been a palpable sense of disappointment with th president among our leftward acquaintances at least as far back the past presidential election, when it was not yet so pronounced that they couldn’t be whipped back into the party line by the frightening prospect of the fascist nightmare of fiscal responsibility and free-market contraception that would have surely followed the election of Mitt Romney, but recent events have clearly exacerbated the gloom. Revelations about the unnecessarily widespread snooping by the National Security Agency prompted some tentative grumbling about the government, the administration’s recent demands for missile strikes against the Syrian regime have prompted unprecedented criticisms of the administration, and there are signs of discontent among the usually reliable constituencies about other policies of the once-infallible President Barack Obama.

The NSA scandal was offensive enough to liberal sensibilities, featuring as it did a heroically unshaven whistle-blower and a George W. Bush-era program that had been expanded beyond even Bushian levels of national security state snoopiness, but the Syrian situation has been an especially bitter betrayal by their former hero. Obama had been the community-organizing peacenik with the courage to lift his chin and sneer at the bloodthirsty cowboy Bush’s unilateral and congressionally-unauthorized war against some harmless and loveable Baathist dictatorship in the Middle East over some unverified and slightly suspect accounts of chemical weapons, which along with the vague promises of hope and change and quasi-socialism were the reasons that liberals so adored him, and when Obama announced his intention to go to war against a Baathist dictatorship in the Middle East based on some slightly more suspicious accounts of chemicals, and without the broad-based coalition or congressional approval that Bush had somehow put together before his war, it was a bit more than the true-believing Obama supporter could bear. Throw in the undeniable ineptness of the entire Obama foreign compared to the supposedly stupid Bushies, on top of the apparent failure of the peace-through-conflict-studies that Obama attempted with such earnestness, and it’s downright infuriating to even the most mellow liberal.

Cravenly political types such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi and former Vermont governor and erstwhile liberal standard-bearer How Dean have remained loyal to Obama, and they’ll no doubt rope in a few more for the upcoming votes on war in Syria, but the liberals whose careers are not so closely connected to the political fortunes of the Democratic party are clearly more skeptical about the president’s war plans. The demonstrations haven’t reached any Bush-era levels, of course, but the grousing from the left has been widespread enough to require a begrudging acknowledgment by right-winters of a sudden intellectual consistency among the left. We are no fans of the Code Pink coalition of crazily anti-war women, but we have to admit to a slight respect for their heckling of Secretary of State John Kerry during testimony before the Senate, where he was also forced to give them some credit for maintaining the principles he had so foolishly endorsed in his long-haired youth, and it’s embarrassing to admit how much we enjoyed the spectacle of Kerry suffering the Alinskyite indignity of the at-home demonstration usually reserved for corporate executives and Republican politicians and other approved villains. Polling indicates the sentiment is widespread among the liberals less inclined to such tactics as home invasions, and the discontent is spreading into other issues.
Conservatives should be heartened to note that 40,000 longshoremen have broken ranks with the AFL- CIO over the union’s support for Obamacare, which they blame for all the costs and problems that conservatives have long warned of. The union movement in general has lately been restive about the president’s signature legislation, and when the equally crucial youth vote figures out they’re expected to sign up for more insurance than they need to pay for some old geezer’s hip replacement yet another loyal constituency will be in revolt. Should African-Americans ever notice their collective unemployment rate has been remained while their collective wealth has declined yet another key group of supporters might be less enthusiastic about voting Democrat come the next election, and even the oh-so-politically-correct arts establishment might been noticing that Obamacare has it out for them. The crucial academic community is suddenly under the administration’s regulatory sights, the press is still smarting from the Justice Department’s nosiness in the phone records of the Associated Press and even the legal threats against a Fox News reporter, and Obama know finds himself in the unusual position of being out of favor with the opinion-making establishment.
This turn of events will likely embolden the president’s conservative opponents, especially those who take a principled stand against his war aims, and it will be good to see some revived spirits among the ranks. Still, one hopes there won’t be any of the predictable overreach, or any unrealistic hope that the lefties have at least com around to the right way of thinking. Liberal opposition to the war has little to do with the conservative’s distrust of half-hearted action, and instead only resents the half of a heart that Obama is putting into it, and the liberal solution to Obamacare’s increasingly obvious flaws is a fully-fledged socialist system. Should the Republicans overplay their hands in the upcoming budget-ceiling debates and its inevitable Obamacare issues they might once again find themselves in the same bogeyman role that Romney wound up playing.
Even so, it’s nice to see the opposition as irked as we are for a change.

— Bud Norman

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