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« The Spam of Jordan Shoes and Coach Outlet Stores | Main | Looking Afresh at Hobbes’s Moral & Political Philosophy »

01/06/2011

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Michael Dorf

I share much of the underlying substantive dissatisfaction and I think Steve may be right in predicting a primary challenge. But thinking about 1980 (the last time a Democratic incumbent faced a primary challenge), I worry that the challenge would fail but weaken Obama for the general.

Steve Shiffrin

Mike, you could be right. But if the general is about a fight for the center as it usually is, then Obama could profit by having opposed and defeated a candidate who outflanks him on the left. On the other hand, if he is so bloodied that a significant part of the base stays home, he is doomed. This is why I root for Palin to win the Republican nomination. No one stays home then!

J. Kevin O'Connor

I consistently enjoy your blogging, but I think it's HIGHLY unlikely Obama will see a serious challenge from the left, even if things get worse in Afghanistan.

Generally, I think the progressive dissatisfaction with Obama is overstated. Yes, there are opinion leaders on the Left who are disappointed but I don’t think there are many who put forth a credible explanation for how Obama could have enacted a substantially more progressive agenda (that would hold up). In many cases, I think frustration with Obama is really just a manifestation of frustration with the conservative tilt of the American political landscape. I would wager that most of the progressives who disapprove of Obama’s first term still basically like and respect the President, in sharp contrast to, for instance, McCarthy supporters’ feelings towards LBJ.

Another thing to consider is that, usually the easiest way for a primary challenger to make a statement is to do well in an early primary like New Hampshire. I don’t think anti-war/progressive anti-Obama sentiment is particularly high (relative to other issues) in IA, NH, etc.

Also, I can’t think of a candidate who could really rally the progressive left. Kucinich is an also-ran. Feingold and Dean definitely won’t (and have said so). John Edwards.

Lastly, I get the sense that the anti-war left isn’t particularly mobilized right now from an institutional perspective. Moreover, I would guess the Obama 2008 campaign staff have strong ties to many of the leaders of that crowd.

Steve Shiffrin

Kevin
I think you make a powerful case. I disagree on the extent of
dissatisfaction among progressives (whether they are right is beside
the point) and the potential for Iowa and New Hampshire to be anti-war
states (particularly Iowa). Lerner threw out a lot of names as
possibilities. Some candidates come out of nowhere. I agree with many
of your other points and recognize that you may be right. We will see.
Thanks for your comment.

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