News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

March 24, 2009

STEPHANIE SALTER: Are Democrats, who aren’t 100-percent Obama, lapdogs?

TERRE HAUTE — When I hear a call from progressives to mobilize against some obstructionist politicians, I’m ready to respond with e-mails or phone calls to the enemy camps to let them know where I stand.

When I read about the national “Dog the Blue Dogs” campaign against conservative Democrats, my liberal antennae began wiggling in eager anticipation.

True, two of the main targets of the campaign are my U.S. congressman, Brad Ellsworth, and Indiana’s U.S. senator, Evan Bayh. But an obstructionist is an obstructionist, even if he’s your voice in D.C.

The dog-the-dogs movement was created by Campaign for America’s Future, a decidedly liberal organization of folks who — like a lot of us — heard some of our favorite music being played during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

The songs we heard were about a grown-up, big-picture perspective of this nation’s real problems — oxymoronic health care, 19th-century energy and environment models, over-regulated but under-funded public education, big business squeezing the life out of the middle- and working-class while the wealthy, Wall Street and Washington lobbyists enjoy government protection.

We heard the songs, too, about how difficult, expensive and elongated the solving of those problems would be — and we understood why and were OK with that.

We knew, however, that Obama is no socialist, as conservatives portray him to be. Many of us recognized that Obama is not even a screaming liberal and, on more than a few issues, is barely a liberal at all — again, no matter what the right says.

But we diehard progressives knew that Obama and his value system were our best hope to make some, well, progress as a nation instead of to lie dead in the water or float backward.

We were realistic. Or at least, I thought we were. Then I sat in on a telephone news conference yesterday with three of the “Dog the Blue Dogs” leaders, and I wasn’t certain anymore about “we.”

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