How far Left do people have to be for the New York Times to call them “far Left”? MoveOn? International ANSWER? Young Communists? William Yardley discovers them in — surprise! — Portland, Oregon, and also discovers that the natives are restless after the last few weeks of Barack Obama flip-flops:
In the breathless weeks before the Oregon presidential primary in May, Martha Shade did what thousands of other people here did: she registered as a Democrat so she could vote for Senator Barack Obama.
Now, however, after critics have accused Mr. Obama of shifting positions on issues like the war in Iraq, the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants, gun control and the death penalty — all in what some view as a shameless play to a general election audience — Ms. Shade said she planned to switch back to the Green Party.
“I’m disgusted with him,” said Ms. Shade, an artist. “I can’t even listen to him anymore. He had such an opportunity, but all this ‘audacity of hope’ stuff, it’s blah, blah, blah. For all the independents he’s going to gain, he’s going to lose a lot of progressives.”
To answer my first question, the far Left appears to be people who switched from the Green Party to Democrat because of Barack Obama. Now some of them have switched back out of disillusion, including Ms. Shade. Given that her windows feature slogans such as “Occupation is Terrorism” and “Free Gaza”, she doesn’t exactly represent the mainstream — as even she admits.
(By the way, free Gaza — from whom? Does Shade know that Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza any longer, but that Hamas does?)
Jeralyn Merritt, however, “occupies” a spot closer to the mainstream among the Left, and she has the same disgust:
I see no transformational quality to either Obama or his candidacy. Obama said he was a new kind of politician. He sold an entire younger generation on the theory of change, a new kind of politics in Washington and he’s delivered the status quo. He’s shown us that on FISA, the death penalty, guns, religion, Iraq, Afghanistan and trade policy (so far) he’s all about preserving the status quo and not rocking the boat in his quest for votes. How much more “politics as usual” can you get? …
How does anyone know what Obama really believes or, even more problematic, what beliefs he’ll decide are worth expending political capital on once he’s elected?
Jeralynn will still wind up voting for Obama, but the disillusionment with Obama has started in earnest with his votes on FISA reform, and that will matter. Obama gave up public financing — another source of disillusionment — and now needs to spend his time on fundraising more than he otherwise would. The lack of enthusiasm among Democrats from the former Greenies to Hillary Clinton supporters like Jeralynn will impact Obama’s ability to raise funds with the alacrity he enjoyed in February.
McCain — who has had similar problems with his Republican base — has two distinct advantages here. First, the “disillusionment” with McCain came a long time before he won the nomination, and the base has had a lot longer to get used to that in terms of his candidacy. Second, McCain doesn’t have to do as much fundraising as Obama will, since he’s accepted public financing, although he’ll still need to do some of it for the RNC.
The transformative veneer has been stripped from Obama, leaving the opportunist exposed for all to see. Obama may have peaked already.