To Lefties: How Does Obama Disappoint?

[ Posted Monday, August 23rd, 2010 – 16:42 UTC ]

While the major fallout from Robert Gibbs' recent slap in the face to "the professional left" has died down a bit, a second round of examination seems to have begun -- one much more introspective and much less knee-jerk than the first round. But the problem seems to be that the people writing about it are mostly of the inside-the-Beltway punditry, meaning it lacks a certain breadth, I think.

This isn't to say such articles aren't valuable, and worth debate. Greg Sargent, who writes the political blog The Plum Line over at, titled today's article: "Why is left so disappointed in Obama?" In it, Sargent discusses an article in Politico which attempts to answer this question, and comes up with his own take on things. Which immediately led me to thinking: "Well, why not ask a few Lefties what they think?"

Since it's Monday, meaning this column will appear in Huffington Post as well as on my own website, I thought I'd do the courtesy of actually asking a fairly large, fairly Lefty audience what they thought, instead of just offering up my own explanations for the phenomenon. So, what do you think? I promise I'll tally everyone's comments in an effort to try to qualify what the Left (or at least, the portion of it reading this) really thinks about their disappointment with the president.

To do so, I'm going to offer up some choices, and invite you to rank your top three in the comments section, by number. Now, I realize that these are all, of necessity, going to be generalizations, and that you may not find the exact reason you're looking for in the list, or perhaps one only tangentially related. So I've also included the option "Other," where you can add your own particular reason for disappointment. And I've also included "I'm not disappointed," for those who are still happy with the job Barack Obama is doing.

In any case, here's the list to choose from. Again, rank your answers in the order they apply to your thoughts and feelings, while keeping in mind only the top three answers you give will be counted. I've tried to be as broad as possible in imagining what top disappointments could be, so you'll have to forgive the length of the list.


As a Lefty (or "as someone who voted for him," to be inclusive), President Obama has disappointed me for the following reasons:

  1. I reject the premise of the question, as President Obama has not disappointed me.
  2. Campaign promises broken/not kept yet.
  3. Far too much emphasis on bipartisanship; far too little emphasis on standing up for core Democratic values and using his bully pulpit to give voice to the Democratic narrative.
  4. Being too quick to bargain away the strongest and best part of legislation.
  5. Being too close to Wall Street, and not paying nearly enough attention to Main Street.
  6. Not focusing enough on improving the economy and creating jobs.
  7. What Obama has managed to get done does not qualify as: "Change we can believe in."
  8. Obama's too liberal.
  9. Obama's too conservative.
  10. Obama's too centrist/pragmatic.
  11. Obama's too corporate.
  12. Not being a "fierce advocate" for much of anything.
  13. Not advancing a cause I believe strongly in (this is a catch-all for one-issue-voter types).
  14. Obama bashes the Left, and ignores his base.
  15. His surge in Afghanistan, instead of bringing our troops home (or other foreign policy disappointments).
  16. His continued Bush-era policies on national defense/civil liberties (interrogation, not closing Guantanamo, assassination policy, etc.).
  17. Lack of transparency, lack of press conferences.
  18. Two words: Rahm Emanuel.
  19. Two words: Tim Geithner
  20. Lack of true leadership (another catch-all response, sorry).
  21. Has not transformed the partisan culture of Washington.
  22. Failure to adequately spotlight congressional Republican obstructionism.
  23. Bailouts/too much government spending.
  24. Not any one thing in particular, but all the little disappointments just seem to add up over time.
  25. I heard he's a Muslim/a Socialist/wasn't born in Hawai'i.
  26. Other: _________________


There you have it. Are you disappointed in President Obama? Why? Let me know in the comments, and after I add things up, I promise I'll send the results on to Sargent (in the hopes he'll plug my column in his, to be scrupulously honest, here). Don't forget to rank your answers "First/Second/Third" or "1, 2, 3" so I can score them properly.

Whether anyone inside the Beltway pays attention or not, though, I think it's a worthwhile question to ask, and I think the answers will be very interesting to see, no matter how things turn out. So have at it!


Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


-- Chris Weigant


31 Comments on “To Lefties: How Does Obama Disappoint?”

  1. [1] 
    fstanley wrote:

    It was hard to pick only three reasons for my disappointment in Obama but here goes:



  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Stan -

    Yeah, I know, I made the list of choices too long. But I thought it'd be easier to be more accurate within each selection, rather than have them ALL be "catch-all" answers to the question.


  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    As a Lefty (or "as someone who voted for him," to be inclusive),

    Glad ya qualified that... :D

    Definitely #2....

    #5 is a definite YES....

    #6 deserves a HELL YEA!!!


    #8 AND #10 is a tossup...

    #12 for sure...

    Definitely #17

    #18 AND #19

    #20 in spades.. Absolutely NO racial intent meant..

    #21 ditto...


    #26 Complete and utter inexperience...

    Oh shit... Only 3?????

    That's what I get for not reading the WHOLE column... :/ ( was wondering why Stan's were in a weird order.. :D )

    Well, frack it.. I ain't gonna erase everything.. I'll just choose the top 3...

    That IS a toughie..


    1- #20
    2- #17
    3- #6

    DOH... I think I strained something... :D


  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I always knew Gibbs was referring to you, Michale.

    Stan, on the other hand, is a surprise.


  5. [5] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    26. Other: Routinely and arrogantly ignores the will of the people.

  6. [6] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Whoops. Let me try that again...

    26. Other: Routinely and arrogantly ignores the will of the people

    23. Bailouts/too much government spending.

    19. Two words: Tim Geithner (who belongs behind bars, along with Larry Summers, Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan)

  7. [7] 
    PikeBot wrote:

    I decided to pull this conversation over here from HuffPo, since having a conversation when two out of every three comments you make fall off into the void isn't productive. I already voted over there (a 1) but I had to try three times, and it was only by stripping away all explanation that I was able to.

    Considering the larger audience over there, it stands to reason that that's where most of your votes are going to come from, and so the comment moderation will skew it very hard. Yes, if people's voices aren't being heard, they can come here and spout off...but consider the following:

    1. It take effort to go over to a\nother website, register, and comment here. Most people won't bother.

    2. Most people will likely not even realize that they are being muted. There is no way of knowing when your comment has been unceremoniously dumped by the comment moderators except to go back and check to see if it's there.

    If you think I'm overstating the problem, consider the following: when I first commented, literally all I said was that I was voting one, and that the reason was that I thought that considering the Congress and situation he had been given to work with, he had gotten an extremely impressive lot of stuff done. I also mentioned that last I checked, Obama was polling something like 80% approval among self-identified Liberals, so the 'disappointment on the left' may be much more optics than reality.

    Apparently that comment wasn't good enough for the HuffPo moderators. I had to try twice more before I could even have my vote registered, and that was by stripping out everything in my comment except for the number.

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    [Cross-posted from HuffPost, after getting the 50th valid vote...]

    I'm going to tally "#1" answers separately, which I'll explain when I get to the final tally, along with how I'm counting these up. As it stands, pretty much no matter how I count it, #1 (or: "I'm not disappointed with Obama, this whole article was stupid") is in third place in the rankings. But, like I said, I'm going to count it separately. Also, in this snap tally, I can't get into individual answers for #26 -- the "Other" category -- other than to present it as it adds up so far.

    Having said that, here are the top 10 vote-getters, so far:

    4 - 1st place
    3 - 2nd place (these top two are very close)
    5 - 3rd place
    12 - 4th place (tie)
    16 - 4th place (tie)
    15 - 6th
    11 - 7th
    26 - 8th (various answers)
    6 - 9th (tie)
    20 - 9th (tie)

    Just to keep everyone posted. I guess I'll have to write about the tally tomorrow, so check my site late tomorrow for the official tally (I'll try to remember to update this article, too).

    Thanks for playing, everyone, and keep those votes coming in!



  9. [9] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    PikeBot -

    I've heard this story before, which is why I invited everyone over here. I did get your vote in the tally, and I apologize for the hassle, even though I have no control over it.


  10. [10] 
    PikeBot wrote:

    Yeah, I know it's not your fault, I just wanted you to be aware of a pretty substantial potential bias in your (admittedly already rather informal) polling!

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Welcome to Chris's place - hope you stick around!

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    By the way, I'm pretty sure the HuffPost moderators are all Republicans ... just like Arianna, herself.

    I kid you not!

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I'm surprised that Matt was the only HuffPost blogger who participated.

    Actually, come to think of it, that's not surprising at all.

    Though, I would have loved to know what Arianna's top three would have been.

  14. [14] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    PikeBot -

    Yeah, I think it might skew the "#1 versus all the others" numbers, but hopefully not the "we're disappointed" numbers. Hopefully.

    Oh, and "Welcome to the site!" forgot to say that!



  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Liz -

    Well, let's see if I get "featured"... if so, others may chime in...


  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If you don't get featured, Chris, then there is something very, very wrong with the Huffington Post.

  17. [17] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    #1. 12

    shirley sharrod is the rule, not the exception. every administration has its missteps, but this one seems to be playing milksop at every opportunity. as a matter of course, any policy, person or piece of legislation that has been contentious to people with money or political power has been immediately thrown under the bus (or at least seriously undermined).

    #2. 4

    the point of compromise is you give up the minor things to get the major things, not the other way around. yet, every major battle has begun with a capitulation on something with broad public support. this administration has seemed completely blind about which issues can be compromised and which must not. for example, keeping the mandate while dropping the public option was a double-whammy with something for everyone to hate. the rules against denial of coverage based on "pre-existing conditions" make HCR better than nothing, but not by much.

    #3. 26

    in spite of a greatly increased budget, arne duncan has managed to hurt teachers in ways that even george bush could not. a man who has never taught a day of public school in his life, his promotion of for-profit education and his complete ignorance about research on effective teaching has encouraged states not only to judge teachers mainly based on student standardized test scores, but to use those as a basis for salary scales. i can't even begin to explain how wrong that is from a host of perspectives, and how disheartening it is. teachers feel now more than ever that every aspect of their work is subject to forces both outside their control and completely unrelated to the level of their effort or the quality of their work. the rhode island teacher firings this spring, secretary duncan's response and the president's comments about it, all demonstrate pretty clearly to me that the obama administration really, really, really does not understand on which side its bread is buttered.

  18. [18] 
    Scott wrote:


    Since only the top 3 count, I'll just give you those.

    1. #3 It's ironic that Linsey Graham said it best during the Sotomayor confirmation, "I believe elections matter." Someone should remind Obama of this fact.

    2. #6. I've always though he should have tackled the economy and jobs first. I think health care reform would have been an easier sell if the economy was in recovery.

    3. #4. The Democrats start negotiations from a weak position, and get progressively weaker. It boggles the imagination as to why this keeps happening, unless it's to highlight the Republican obstructionism.

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:


    2. #6. I've always though he should have tackled the economy and jobs first. I think health care reform would have been an easier sell if the economy was in recovery.

    You nailed it there..

    This administration is completely and utterly deaf when it comes to JOBS...

    So much so that I have to wonder exactly WHY the Obama administration is going out of it's way to CAUSE job loss and to insure that there are no job gains..

    I am not one for conspiracy theories (usually :D) but it's really strange how the American people can scream JOBS!!! JOBS!!! JOBS!!! until they are blue in the face and Obama is like, "What's that?? You want CrapCare?? You want Bank bailouts?? You want Wall Street bailouts?? You want a Ground Zero Mosque?? You want Terrorists tried in New York civilian courts?? Okely Dokely...."

    No, Mr President.

    The American people want jobs..

    And remember. That is what elections are for...


  20. [20] 
    akadjian wrote:

    May be too late for the tally and am not fond of the title of this post, but here's my three:

    (26) Hasn't communicated like he did in the election
    (6) Agree w/ Scott and Michale - I think he's doing more than people realize. But he's sure not communicating it. This should be the top priority of all communications.


  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:


    Agree w/ Scott and Michale -

    This agreeing with me is becoming a nasty habit..

    Better be careful...

    Soon, you'll be screaming, "HELL NO, THE MOSQUE MUST GO!!! HELL NO, THE MOSQUE MUST GO!!!"

    hehehehehehehe :D


  22. [22] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    (26) Hasn't communicated like he did in the election

    Probably because he was nothing but full of crappola during the election, in retrospect. What's he supposed to communicate? His passage of the public option? His "no mandate" promise? The Afghanistan war he's neither won nor ended? His failure to keep unemployment below 8%? His complete bust of a stimulus plan? Don't look now, but this president isn't still blaming Bush for nothing. It's because he, himself, has no real achievements, to speak of. Although I hear he's gonna be giving himself credit for winning the Iraq war. ROFLMAO. Good luck with that one.

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    Although I hear he's gonna be giving himself credit for winning the Iraq war. ROFLMAO. Good luck with that one.

    Oh don't worry about that..

    Obama's SecDef and his JCS Chairman have already set the record straight that it is the Bush Administration who gets the credit for a stable Iraq... :D


  24. [24] 
    Michale wrote:

    19.Two words: Tim Geithner

    Obama's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" moment...

    Welcome to the Recovery
    Published: August 2, 2010

    Obama should heed the words of unemployment group UCUBED and fire Geithner.


  25. [25] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Welcome to the Recovery

    ROFL. This is like a gag headline.

  26. [26] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Speak of the devil...

    Unemployed group blasts Geithner's handling of economy

    Also, Boehner is calling upon Obama to dump Geithner and Summers.

  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    You can bet that, when the GOP takes control of both Houses of Congress, a LOT of heads are going to roll...


  28. [28] 
    akadjian wrote:

    This agreeing with me is becoming a nasty habit.

    Aren't you worried as well? What happens when you no longer believe in the manufactured GOP story du jour?


  29. [29] 
    akadjian wrote:

    p.s. Was supposed to be a smiley face at end of that :--)

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This is especially for CB ... well, and Michale, too. :)

    It's also a bit off topic, though it does highlight one of the administration's accomplishments. Be aware that this is just the latest example in the Obama/Biden/Geithner adminisration's efforts to target al'Qaeda financing activity.

    I trust that it will mercifully put to rest any concerns over where the money is coming from, generally speaking. You should both feel assured that the treasury department is on top of all of it.

    For your reading pleasure ...

  31. [31] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    akadjian -

    Plenty of time left to vote! Well, a few hours at any rate...

    We're nearing 100 entries, I'll post a tally update when we hit it...


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