Archive for Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bloggers watch Obama, want action

Online liberals not too disappointed with president — yet

August 15, 2009

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— They wish he’d done more in his first eight months, but the liberal bloggers who helped propel Barack Obama to the White House are far from giving up on him.

Gathered in Pittsburgh for the annual Netroots Nation convention, they say they’re not disappointed. At least not too disappointed. Yet.

If politics is a meal being served up by the new president, they’re just looking for something to at least sweeten the bland, sometimes bitter fare they’ve grown to expect in Washington.

“He’s making some strides ... but I think there needs to be more action,” says Los Angeles-based blogger Lisa Derrick, who writes daily about politics, entertainment and pop culture on Firedoglake.com under the name LaFiga.

Rumblings on the left could spell trouble down the road for the president and for other Democrats. The group MoveOn.org is threatening to run ads against moderate and conservative Democrats who don’t toe the line on Obama’s health care overhaul push.

The president himself is giving too much ground on health care, in the eyes of some of the bloggers here. Some also think he ought to be getting out of Iraq faster. They want him to do away with the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“There’s a degree of accountability that’s necessary,” said Derrick.

The White House hasn’t forgotten the bloggers Obama courted in the presidential campaign. His team has elevated the Internet presence of the White House to new heights. And senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett will be here in Pittsburgh to address the Netroots convention.

Denim everywhere, the convention’s informal atmosphere reflects the vast election support Obama garnered among youngish, tech-savvy people, many of whom became involved in the political process for the first time.

After actively helping usher Obama into the Oval Office — often employing Web-based organizing — many now refuse to relinquish their newly discovered role in democracy, determined to remain vigilant in ensuring the president makes good on campaign promises.

“I will wait and see. I will watch, but I don’t see myself at the point of completely disappointed,” said Karen Johnson, a Portland, Ore., “lurker” on the Daily Kos Web site, meaning she comments and reads daily, but doesn’t blog.

Still, there is disappointment, many say, that Obama has failed to actively pursue what they call Bush-era crimes — from torture in the terror war to a blurring of lines at home between the Department of Justice and the White House.

And they view the health care debate with trepidation, saying Obama has not provided a clear plan or spoken out strongly enough against hardline critics who have turned some lawmakers’ town hall meetings into screaming matches. Now, they say, Obama is on the defensive, weakening his attempt to overhaul the system.

“They’re compromising too easy, too soon,” said Pittsburgh-based blogger David DeAngelo, who writes on the Web site 2politicaljunkies.

“But on the other hand, it’s going so much better than a McCain presidency would have,” DeAngelo added.

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