Left Wing Getting Nervous About Obama

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Nearly 80 percent of Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents — like the way President-elect Barack Obama is handling the transition, according to a Gallup poll. But there is discontent — much of it from the left wing of Obama's own party and fueled by the blogosphere.

They knew Barack Obama wasn't really a liberal, says Chris Bowers of the blog Openleft.com. But Hillary Clinton as secretary of state? Robert Gates staying on as secretary of defense, and retired Gen. Jim Jones as national security adviser? Why, asks Bowers, did all three of Obama's top national security picks have to be people who supported the war in Iraq?

"Opposing the Iraq war from the start should have been an almost litmus test in order for someone to hold such a position under an Obama administration," Bowers says. "Especially since he won the election during the primary due to his opposition to the war."

And as a Democrat, Bowers says, he's concerned that Obama's picks for national security adviser and secretary of defense are both Republicans.

"Bill Clinton's second term also featured a GOP secretary of defense," Bowers says. "And for Dems to continuously put Republicans in high-ranking positions over the military sends a clear signal that the Democratic Party ... isn't even confident that Democrats can run the military."

Liberal bloggers may have actually had some impact on at least one of Barack Obama's appointments. Last month, John Brennan, formerly a top official in the CIA, removed himself from consideration as the next head of the intelligence agency. This was after he'd been pilloried in the blogs for defending the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques that critics call torture. It was a big victory for the blogosphere, says John Amato of crooksandliars.com.

"You can't deny the fact that liberal blogs are a very powerful force in American politics today," Amato says. "And if you've been on the wrong side of torture, you're going to have a big problem with liberals and progressives."

And this is no time for progressives to get complacent, says Kevin Martin, who runs Peace Action. He says a lot of people on the left have the wrong impression of Barack Obama.

"You know, Obama said he wanted to get out of Iraq. He's not Bush or McCain — so he must be Ghandi. That's the perception out there," Martin says. "Well, he's not Ghandi."

"And I don't see military policy changing a whole lot under Obama unless the people who helped put him in office are vigilant and hold him accountable to the promises he made or that they thought he was making," Martin adds.

But not every liberal blogger is giving the president-elect a hard time.

"Can we at least allow Obama to start governing before we take him apart?" asks Amato. "Let him be sworn in. Give the guy a chance, that's what I'm saying."

There will be plenty of time to criticize him later, Amato says — when he actually starts doing something.



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