The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

January 5, 2013

Commentary: Liberals nip at Obama as he battles Republicans



By Jonathan Alter

Bloomberg News

You can already hear the rumbling in the distance — a train of noisy liberal Democrats barreling straight for the White House. They should arrive just in time for President Obama's second inauguration.

The president already has his hands full dealing with angry and unrealistic Republicans. Now he's getting reacquainted with their counterparts on the left — a less ideologically inflexible bunch but not necessarily any more susceptible to reason.

Recognizing the enormous stakes in the 2012 election, liberals took the advice of Dr. Evil and "zipped it" during the entire campaign. They refrained from any criticism of the president, lest it help Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

For a party famous for its lack of discipline, that was impressive. So was the Obama campaign field organization. Humorist Will Rogers once said, "I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat." Lately, given the disarray on the Republican side, Rogers might have swallowed hard and seen fit to declare himself a Republican.

If Democrats are better organized than in the past, they still have their foibles. Recall the crowd at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., loudly booing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as he left the stage.

Villaraigosa, chairman of the convention, had just claimed that two-thirds of the delegates had approved by voice vote the reinstatement in the party platform of a provision supporting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It was more like two delegates and maybe a third — about the same tiny level of support that welcomed Obama's insistence that "God" be put back in the platform, too.

Before the campaign, liberals were hardly hesitant to express their disappointment with the president. Recall the liberal unrest of 2009 when Obama, bowing to congressional pressure, failed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and neglected to support a public option in the Affordable Care Act.

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