Mr. Obama, in an interview in Rolling Stone, aimed fire at those abandoning him: 'It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election.' The Democratic base 'sitting on their hands complaining' is 'just irresponsible.... We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard—that's what I said during the campaign. ... But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place.'
At first I thought this was another example of the president's now-habitual political ineptness, his off-key-ness. You don't diss people into voting for you, you can't lecture them into love. The response from the left was fierce, unapologetic—and accusatory. Mr. Obama had let them down, he'd taken half measures. 'Stop living in that bubble,' shot back an activist on cable. But Jane Hamsher of the leftist blog Firedoglake saw method, not madness. She described the president's remarks as 'hippie punching' and laid them to cynical strategy: 'It's about setting up a narrative for who will take the blame for a disastrous election.' She said Mr. Obama's comments themselves could 'depress turnout.'
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