All the other pundits are weighing in, so I guess I might as well.
E. J. Dionne points out the many reasons why Martha Coakley, the Democrat in the race, might lose, and why it's not fully a referendum on Obama (here and here). He goes on to list some things that Democrats might learn from this race.
But I decided to write this post when I read Steve Clemons, who echoes a sort of common wisdom (if we may use that word) on the left. It's the messy health care bill that this is a referendum on, says Steve; President Obama was in office when this extremely messy process went on, and we sensitive beings who would prefer a more perfect bill and would have averted our eyes from the spectacle of politics being made have been forced to see this awful thing taking place, so of course we will stay home or even vote for the Republicans.
Dionne wonders why the Democrats' message isn't taking the way the conservatives' message is. He should be on the listserv I'm on. Or he could look at Clemons's post. How different is that message from the Republicans'? Obama is doing terrible things to the nation with the health care bill. I'm sure that Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Partiers are delighted with Glenn Greenwald's and Marcy Wheeler's attacks on the administration.
I keep wondering why people who call themselves progressives keep lining up on the other side. They're forgetting history and losing sight of the future. If you want to grade the administration, you need to think about whether you're grading on a curve or not. Curving Obama with George W. Bush, Obama's marks are all A++. Improving foreign relations. Getting the health reform bill this far along. Averting the financial disaster that was in progress during the transition. Good cabinet and other appointments. Changes in executive orders and agency regulations that will give us a handle on global warming and better regulation of food and hazardous waste. A wise Latina woman on the Supreme Court.
It's the future I'm worried about, though, in this election and in the constant carping of some so-called progressives. If the health care reform bill doesn't pass, it's pretty much all over for a progressive future. Big Republican wins in November, which will destroy chances for progressive legislation. A failed presidency, which those progressives are already trumpeting. (Why do they want this?) A Republican president in 2012. Do they think that will bring the progressive change they want?
The country has a bunch of trials to get through. We've chosen Barack Obama to lead us. What are we doing to get to the future we want?
Update: Bernard Avishai, Kevin Drum, and Andrew Sullivan. And John Cole, who just broke his shoulder protecting his dog from the cold.