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December 8th, 2010
10:18 AM ET

Opinion: Why Obama is right to defy far left

Editor's note: John P. Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for The Daily Beast. He is the author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America." The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of John Avlon.

John Avlon
CNN Contributor

The fault lines beneath the Democratic Party have been rumbling between the left and the center. Now with President Obama's compromise on the Bush taxes, they threaten to erupt entirely.

But it's just the newest chapter of an old fight, and despite the liberal base's fury, it's evidence that Obama is trying to re-center himself before the 2012 elections.

One of the strangest signs of our political times is that while the far right considers Obama a socialist, the far left thinks he's a corporate sellout. Of course, he can't be both. But this distorted view disproportionately dominates our political debates. And long before Frank Rich joined the liberals' dumping on Obama by diagnosing him as suffering from "Stockholm Syndrome" at the hands of his Republican captors this weekend, the left has been saying that the problem with the president is that he's too centrist.

This goes back to the '08 campaign. Liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman took early aim at Obama, saying, "I find it a little bit worrisome if we have a candidate who basically starts compromising before the struggle has even begun." Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas extended the narrative from the netroots by saying that Obama might be one of those "spineless Democrats who are ... afraid of controversy."

To the left, these concerns have been validated by Obama's recent tax cut compromises. But even during the liberal high-water mark of successfully fighting for health care reform attempted by Democratic presidents since Truman, Obama was being attacked by the left for not steadfastly supporting a public option.

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Filed under: Democrats • John Avlon • Opinion • President Barack Obama • Taxes
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Shari from Madison

    Well, I'm a liberal but I need to say Obama has no choice! Don't those who are the far left know that if this deal doesn't go thru, their taxes will increase? This is what is wrong with Washington, there is no acceptable middle ground. If this deal doesn't pass or even if it does, Obama will get vilified by half the people in Congress and in the senate. Obama is making the right decision for the middle class, working stiffs and the unemployed. It isn't the ideal deal, but in this political climate there is no such thing!

    December 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  2. Kim

    Sounds like more political rhetoric by where the Democrats and Republicns get into another snow ball fight over taxes and the economy on who's right and who's wrong.10% unemployment is wrong !Obama did the right thing for the interests of the whole for American citizens and the economy but they'll keep throwing the snowballs. Jobs ,Jobs and get the big govt.out of the way ! Old song..."You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find,ya get what ya need..." It's a United States of American citizen team effort.Show the people made in the USA or ya know what,just may decide not to buy it.Unemployment extended but it's not paid for ? Don't borrow the money from China !

    December 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  3. D. Green

    I new he was a closet conservative from the start. Just go through his first 6 months in office and it becomes clear. He just fed liberals that campaign crap to get in office, but he wasn't doing it for us. He was running for the people that paid for him. Sorry liberal s we have been duped again and so the battle continues between the haves and those who have not.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm |