SAME OLD, SAME OLD. At the end of last week, former American Prospect intern Rob Anderson pointed to an item by Matt Stoller on MyDD and asked whether it meant that "Obama's honeymoon with the liberal blogosphere is over." It's a fair question, as Barack Obama has come in for occasional criticism on various liberal blogs, most recently for his opposition to Russ Feingold's censure resolution and his support of Joe Lieberman. Indeed, one of the greatest risks for Obama, as for Bill Clinton before him, lies with the quality that has made him so appealing a political personality thus far -- the sense that he contains multitudes, if you will, allowing all kinds of disparate groups to look at him and feel themselves represented. When multitudes consider a politician one of their own, multitudes can just as easily feel betrayed when that politicians stubbornly persists in being an individual or hews to a course other than the one a particular faction would like him to take. Clinton, as some of us recall, for the same reason faced an almost unrelenting barrage of now largely forgotten criticisms from the left from the time he took office until the time of his impeachment.
All that said, it's worth noting for the historical record that Stoller has disliked Obama from the get-go and that his current comments thus do not constitute much of a shift in opinion. During the summer of '04, Stoller was briefly brought on to do some blogging for the Democratic National Convention Committee -- until his criticisms of Obama, the break-out star of the convention, on BOPNews.com led Democrats to sever the connection with him.
Wrote Stoller of Obama in summer of '04:
To be honest, I don't get the big deal. I've seen him speak a few times. He seems very charismatic, but I have yet to cross that bridge with him where I feel like he's saying anything really interesting or useful.
Two years later, Stoller has yet to cross the bridge:
Obama is a brilliant man, but it's not clear to me if he is anything but an charismatic local politician writ large who just follows the political winds. I hear that he was different in Illinois, that he really was a leader there, and that he's just biding his time in the Senate, like any good freshman should. Maybe. But I don't know. I just feel slimed whenever I hear him speak as the promising young star of the Democratic Party, since he seems to epitomize the leadership-by-charisma that has destroyed our party, instead of the leadership-by-principle that can save our country.
This is no turning against; this is a being against from the get go, and ought to be considered as such. Some writers just don't like some politicians, for whatever reason. Stoller doesn't get Obama and isn't going to, but that idiosyncrasy doesn't mean anything in particular about the liberal blogosphere in general.