Ever since the political press declared him a near-dead duck following the 2014 midterms, President Obama has been on a winning streak that would make Lazarus retreat back into his tomb. As the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership came to a head this week, critics on President Obama’s left, most notably Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), began an all-out assault on his attempt to gain negotiating flexibility through a Trade Promotion Authority bill that’s making its way through Congress. Now, they’re finding out what it means to go toe-to-toe with a President Obama who has no more elections to win.
At a speech to members of Organizing For Action this week, President Obama took square aim at those critics, and he brought out the big guns to do it. Obama alternately accused MSNBC (by name) of spreading “misinformation” about the trade deal, slammed organized labor as a bunch of ingrates, obliquely lampooned Elizabeth Warren’s brand as inventor of the income inequality crusade, and scorched his trade critics by comparing them to (get your smelling salts) Sarah Palin:
And if you were watching MSNBC and all this stuff, and — you’re thinking, oh, man, I love Obama but what’s going on here? So I want to set the record straight here. I want everybody to be clear about what we’re doing, because I believe in what I’m doing here. I want to talk about this because — in part because it’s complicated, and also it’s full of misinformation.
…I’ve got some of those folks who are saying this stuff after all I’ve done to help lift their industries up.
…I’ve been talking about things like reversing rising inequality and strengthening social mobility since before it was cool.
…Now, some of these folks are friends of mine. I love them to death. But in the same way that when I was arguing for health care reform I asked people to look at the facts — somebody comes up with a slogan like “Death Panel,” doesn’t mean it’s true. Look at the facts.
That’s not just going to leave a mark, it’s going to require some stitches. Already, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz has fired back in a fit of blind butthurt, challenging President Obama to punch down at him in person.
While his shot at MSNBC and the “Death Panel” reference are getting the most attention, though, it was his reference to Warren’s meteoric rise as YouTube star that really indicates the depth of President Obama’s doneness with attacks from his left. It’s a marked contrast to his early presidency, when then-Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was forced into temporary exile for taking a similar shot at the “professional left,” and anyone who’s holding their breath for some kind of Chai Latte Summit to smooth things over is in for a disappointment.
As much fun as his supporters are having watching President Obama torch his critics, this is not necessarily a good thing. There are reasonable skeptics of this trade deal (even on MSNBC) whose voices are being drowned out by the deceptive fearmongering that’s going on, and beyond that, there’s an important election coming up that will likely feature a Democratic nominee who favors the TPP. The 2010 and 2014 midterm elections were textbook examples of what happens when you demoralize the emoprog base, and the country can ill afford even greater Republican control of our government. The Warren Wing needs to grow up.