Obama and Iowa liberals: Candidate gets pounded from the Left, but semi-endorsed by Kucinich

Barack Obama has been criticized for much of the past two months for attacking his rivals from the right -- first on Social Security, then on health care. 48 hours from Iowa, Obama has just drawn a new round of criticism for his latest comments on past Democratic nominees and on union expenditures; but he also secured a potentially deal-making show of support: Dennis Kucinich urged his backers to join Obama's group in the precincts in which Kucinich is unviable (which is likely to be most of them).

This should not procure a big number of raw votes to Obama, but given the election mode of the caucuses it could help him get one extra delegate here and there with the help of Kucinich backers, and that extra-delegate in some precincts could go a long way towards boosting the percentage of Obama's delegate allocation -- the results that are reported at the end of the night. It is through deals like this that victories are secured in the Iowa caucuses.

In 2004, of course, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich allied themselves on the day of the election and told their supporters to join together for the group with the most members in places where one (or both) of them was unviable. So Kucinich's endorsement of Obama (that he justifed saying they both embodied change) is going to be taken as a direct rebuke of Edwards -- which is especially strange given that Edwards has gone much further to the Left and towards Kucinich this time than in 2004. And it is also interesting that this does not appear to be the result of a concerted move between Obama and Kucinich. Will Biden, Dodd and Richardson make similar announcement or cut deals?

Meanwhile, Obama is having a growing problem with his party's left. The latest controversy has its roots in the Edwards-Obama controversy of two weeks ago during which Obama accused Edwards of benefiting from special interest aids because of 527 groups helping him. In response, Krugman blasted Obama for insinuating that unions and groups like Emily's List should not be involved in elections when they are such key constituencies of the party.

Now, Obama has picked up his anti-527 rhetoric denouncing the "Washington money" of special interests that are pouring in Iowa, and unions are fighting back, blasting away at the Illinois Senator. The president of AFT told the Politico, "I’m taken aback that somebody like Obama would think that Oprah Winfrey has a greater right to participate in the political process than the 4 million people I represent." And many other union heads have criticized Obama as well.

The second controversy has emerged out of Obama's following comments: "I don't want to go into the next election starting off with half the country already not wanting to vote for Democrats -- we've done that in 2004, 2000." Obama perhaps did not intend this as a specific indictement of Gore and Kerry's divisiveness, but that is how it is being interpreted, with many bloggers and Democrats already responding that not only Gore won in 2000 but Kerry can hardly be blamed for the negative onslaught that followed his nomination. Though this is very much part of Obama's standard campaign argument, that he is the only Democrat who can unify the country whereas others will divide it and polarize it further.

The Prospect's Ezra Klein summarizes his worries about Obama by explaining that Obama has drawn distinctions in the run-up to the caucuses by blasting his opponents from the right:

Obama's comfort attacking liberals from the right is unsettling, and if he does win Iowa, it will not be a victory that either supporters or the media ascribe to the more progressive elements of his candidacy. Instead, they will search for the distinctions he's drawn, and, sadly, a number of those distinctions point away from the heart-quickening progressivism of much of this race, and back towards the old politics of centrist caution and status quo bias.
And the fact that the DMR poll highlighted that Obama's win will come from a huge surge in turnout among independents and Republicans will likely not reassure those who hold such concerns.

Markos joined the Obama critics a week after saying he would probably cast his ballot for the Illinois Senator; he now pretty much retracted himself on the basis of Obama's latest comments: "You have to have your head stuck deep in the sand to deny that Obama is trying to close the deal by running to the Right of his opponents. And call me crazy, but that's not a trait I generally appreciate in Democrats, no matter how much it might set the punditocracy's hearts a flutter." Kos is obviously not representative of the Left and of progressives, but when such criticism starts being added up it becomes striking how the candidate that presents himself as the darling of anti-establishment progressives is being viewed by an increasing number as the most reactionary.

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  • I don't see this as a left/right issue. Obama isn't anti union. He is making a statement about going around campaign finance rules, which is one of his major concerns. Edwards has made this issue a platform of his campaign and this is hypocrisy.
    I am not anti-union, but I am opposed to anyone skirting the campaign finance laws, and that includes unions, lobbiests, 527's, PACs etc.

    By Blogger Merri, At 01 January, 2008 17:27  

  • Obama doesn't have a "growing problem with the party's left". He has a "growing problem with a few bloggers, a hack columnist, and a union"

    By Blogger Democrats Against Hillary, At 01 January, 2008 17:45  

  • Obama has a growing problem with people who read his record and listen to his statements.

    He campaigned for Lieberman and said that Lieberman was working in "our behalf". He has taken loads of money from corporations, the financial sector and the health insurance industry. He has spent his time attacking democrats instead of the Bush administration.

    He campaigned with the obnoxious idiotic homophobe Donnie McClurkin and opposes the rights of gays to marry based on what he hypocritically calls his religion - even though his Church, the United Church of Christ, supports gay marriage.
    He votes to fund the war in Iraq. He echos right-wing talking points about Iran, Pakistan and Iraq.

    He voted for the un-American misnamed Patriot Act. He is against the impeachment of those who have violated the law and the constitution of the United States.

    All this didn't sway Kos until this moment.
    Perhaps this last bit of pandering by Obama was the scent of coffee that Kos needed to arouse him from whatever agenda he has been following up to now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 01 January, 2008 18:19  

  • Anonymous,
    Maybe you should spend a little more time learning about Obama. You seem to have an agenda here, and while I don't have the space to dispute you, I would suggest that you let go of your hate for a while and try to see beyond sound bites.
    I may not know the individual details of the bullet points you rattle off, but I have spent about a year and a half now reading everything good and bad that I can find on the man, and his character remains sterling in my eyes.
    It's easy to pull individual statement out of context,blame someone for the character of a supporter or take a vote made in the senate and obscure the intention.
    I have a feeling you know these are half truths and inuendo, but you have to spread the love somehow. Enjoy yourself while you still can I guess.

    By Blogger Merri, At 01 January, 2008 23:06  

  • Out of the mouths of babes: "I may not know the individual details of the bullet points you rattle off, but I have spent about a year and a half now reading everything good and bad that I can find on the man, and his character remains sterling in my eyes."

    What about the PRESENT VOTES in the IL State Senate where Barack Obama was also the sole "Abstaining" vote on a bill that would require teaching respect for others in schools. He also "Voted PRESENT" on a measure to prohibit sex-related shops from opening near schools or places of worship. It passed the Senate. In both of those cases, his campaign said, he was trying to avoid mandates on local authorities."


    The above poster obviously is not old enough to have kids and would not understand the implications anyway. While reading everything there is to find (besides his autobiographies) did you come across the the Chicago Tribune article from Sep 25, 2004 where he FIRST gave his views on the real possiblity of bombing Iran and Pakistan?? (google bomb Iran Pakistan Obama and the CT article USED to be readily available - NOW within the past week, suddenly it's been squirreled away in the Archives!? SOMEONE must have some pull somewhere!! But we can safely assume that the GOP already has the records safely tucked away for future use!)

    "Obama would consider missile strikes on Iran -- Chicagotribune.com
    U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama suggested Friday (Sep 24, 2004) that the United States one
    day might have to launch surgical missile strikes into Iran and Pakistan to ...

    Also take a look at the platform Jimmy Carter ran on in 1976 = It's almost identical to Barack Obama's!! AND for those too young to remember, what America got for voting in someone who ran "as a Washington outsider" with NO FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE was 444 days of the IRAN EMBASSY HOSTAGE CRISIS. How many vulnerable American Embassys are abroad now - given the even more precarious world situation??


    We can't afford another neophyte in the White House!!! Oh and to the poster who whined that he has a problem with the Unions, HEl-LO what planet are you from? THE Democrats ARE the Unions' party! Kinda like biting the hand that feeds you, isn't it = Can't get elected on Independent & stray GOP VOTES alone ROFLOL... sigh

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 02 January, 2008 15:00  

  • Taylor Marsh is your link? I don't feel this is worth responding to now that I know where you are coming from, but as for those present votes, the people from NOW were working with him on that. Do YOUR homework.

    By the way, I'm probably old enough to be your mother, but no child of mine would have an attitude like yours. You are concerned about supporting the Unions when you show such disrespect for Jimmy Carter? Yes, you certainly are a true blue democrat.

    Don't bother responding because I'm not interested in your rants anymore.

    By Blogger Merri, At 02 January, 2008 16:29  

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