How angry has the professional Left become? Their oracle on MSNBC isn’t just warning that Barack Obama won’t get re-elected after cutting a deal with Republicans, but won’t even be on the ticket come November 2012. Keith Olbermann warned in his Special Comment last night that Obama won’t survive a primary challenge if he persists, because Democrats and progressives are wedded to principles, not personalities:
Er, doesn’t the nomination of Obama in 2008 more or less rebut that notion? Obama didn’t offer any different rhetoric than did John Edwards did, or even Bill Richardson, who was a lot more experienced and qualified as an executive (and in foreign affairs) than Obama. The only real argument for Obama over Hillary Clinton (who was playing all the populist cards at the end, too) was “change” over experience, and Obama’s supposed charisma over Hillary’s baggage.
Beyond that, though, has a sitting president ever been denied the nomination of his party for re-election? None comes to mind, especially in the modern era. LBJ may have come the closest, with a narrow victory in New Hampshire in 1968 enough to push him into retirement. Nor is Obama likely to be the first to lose it. His strong support from African-Americans won’t change no matter how many Special Comments Olbermann launches, and Democrats can’t afford to alienate that bloc in 2012, and not just in the presidential election. A poor turnout among black voters will doom their Senatorial incumbents as well. Splitting the party along progressive lines will doom Democrats across the country in yet another wave election.
If anything, Obama might prevent getting a challenge from the old DLC wing of the party with this deal, and that would be much better for him in the long run. If Evan Bayh (as an example) ran against him in the primaries, Obama would have to run all over again as a progressive, which won’t be the path to re-election, if one exists at all.
Update: Rob Port notes that Olby went for the crazy in another part of last night’s Countdown:
“I will confess I won’t fight if anyone wants to draw a comparison between what you’ve done with our domestic policies of our day to what Neville Chamberlain did with the domestic policies of his,” says Olbermann. The reference is to Neville Chamberlain who, as Prime Minister of Great Britain, infamously cut a deal with Hitler (that Hitler subsequently broke to the surprise of nobody except Chamberlain) and proclaimed “peace in our time.”
Because, in Oblermann’s [sic] world, Republicans are Nazis and the Bush tax cuts are like Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Unless Olbermann has something else other than the Munich capitulation in mind (does anyone care about Chamberlain’s tax policies?), then this is both incoherent and, well, idiotic. It takes Obama’s “hostage takers” and raises it a couple of Nazis. Ironically, Chamberlain’s domestic policies were strikingly progressive. He nationalized the British coal industry, limited working hours, forced paid holidays onto the private sector, and extended rent controls. If Olbermann has an objection to Chamberlain’s domestic policies, I’m sure his audience would be interested in hearing it.
Also, Hitler invaded Poland, not Czechoslovakia — because Chamberlain made invasion unnecessary. They gave away the Sudetenland to Hitler, who quietly took the rest six months later.
Update II: Commenters make a good argument that Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. It was more an annexation by military deployment; there wasn’t any organized resistance, mainly because Munich had neutered Czechoslovakia. But still, point taken; it certainly wasn’t an Anschluss.
Update III: Stacy McCain has the full transcript, and Rob misquoted Olby in one key way, emphasis mine:
I don’t want to make any true comparison to the historical event to which it related; the viewer can go ahead and look it up if they wish; I will confess I won’t fight if anybody wants to draw a comparison between what you’ve done with our domestic politics of our day, to what Neville Chamberlain did with the international politics of his.
So Olby didn’t confuse domestic and foreign policy as indicated in Rob’s post — but he still “won’t fight” a comparison between Obama negotiating with Republicans and Chamberlain negotiating with Nazis.