Critics from the left: what does Obama stand for?

That President Obama is attacked from the right is both natural and obvious, but it should now be noted that criticism from the left has increased recently, and the reason is his leadership — what he has said and not said — during the ongoing negotiations on the debt ceiling and the deficit.

The criticism from the left is based on two main reasons:

First, critics believe that Obama has not been clear on where he stands in these negotiations and, secondly, his announcement that even democratic core issues such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are negotiable – all to bring about a compromise package.

The other day, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman expressed his disappointment and discontent with Obama when he wrote:

”It’s getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama’s motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right. In fact, if all you did was listen to his speeches, you might conclude that he basically shares the G.O.P.’s diagnosis of what ails our economy and what should be done to fix it. And maybe that’s not a false impression; maybe it’s the simple truth.”

Krugman is not alone. Here is what the Newsweek/Daily Beast liberal commentator Michael Tomasky recently wrote:

“The news that Obama is willing to place Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid on the poker table reveals yet again, and more starkly than ever before, what’s most important to him. It’s not to lead. It’s not to fight. It’s not even to win. It’s to be the most reasonable and unflappable person in the room. Obama will not be a transformational president unless the transformation starts in his own DNA.”

Tomasky’s article was headlined “The Untransformational President”:

”Transformational leaders fight and draw lines in the sand. I’ve been stunned, both in the spring during the government shutdown negotiations and now, that Obama has hardly ever gone to the American people to insist firmly that there are some things he would never abide… In these recent crucial weeks, the president has hardly said a word about what is sacred or inviolate.”

More and more on the left also believe that Obama is focusing on the wrong issues. It’s not about the debt ceiling, it’s about jobs, said “The Nation’s” commentator John Nichols on his blog: “President Obama and his team have never focused on job issues with the intensity that is needed.”

Robert Kuttner, a leading liberal economist and editor of “The American Prospect,” agrees. In an article today on the “Huffington Post”, he writes that firsst we need to solve the job crisis and to do that we need is a huge investment program like during the Great Depression in the 30’s.

“The political center — Obama, the Bowles-Simpson Commission, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation — offers essentially the same austerity medicine, but wants tax hikes as well as spending cuts. So eager is Obama to make a deal that he is now willing to throw Social Security and Medicare, as well as trillions in other spending cuts, into the pyre. But that centrist austerity formula won’t work any better than the right-wing version. It won’t restore jobs or prosperity… In the short run, Obama may be saved from himself by two factors — the right and the left. With each passing day, the Republicans become more in thrall to the know-nothings of the Tea Party. The White House keeps offering them the family jewels, but they won’t accept. Meanwhile, Democrats in both houses are growing more and more wary of the kind of deal Obama seems all too willing to make.”


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