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Glenn Greenwald: Why Do We Assume Obama's Actually Trying to Enact a Progressive Agenda?

What evidence is there that Obama truly wants progressive outcomes?

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UPDATE II [Thurs.]:  As I noted, most liberals, at least that I've heard, had a quite favorable response to Obama's speech, chief among them (as the above links show) Paul Krugman.  Yet by the end of the day, Krugman was quoting Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who argued that Obama's "plan is a rather conservative one, significantly to the right of the Rivlin-Domenici plan" and that it "could produce an outcome that is well to the right of the already centrist-to-moderately-conservative Obama proposal."  Krugman himself added that "it’s a center-right plan already; if it's the starting point for negotiations that move the solution toward lower taxes for the rich and even harsher cuts for the poor, just say no."

That highlights two key points.  One is that the expectation level of liberals is now so low that they cheer for a pretty speech that introduces a "rather conservative, center-right plan" -- one that is almost certainly the mere starting point that will lead to a still more rightward economic policy.  And the second is that Obama always has been able to deliver nice speeches, especially ones that trigger the desired response among progressives; the test for Obama is what he does, not what he says in a single speech.

Glenn Greenwald is a Constitutional law attorney and chief blogger at Unclaimed Territory . His forthcoming book, How Would a Patriot Act: Defending American Values from a President Run Amok will be released by Working Assets Publishing next month.

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