Liberal bloggers watch Obama closely

Seek more action from president

By Ramit Plushnick-Masti
Associated Press / August 15, 2009

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PITTSBURGH - They wish he’d done more in his first eight months, but the liberal bloggers who helped propel President Obama to the White House are far from giving up on him.

“He’s making some strides . . . but I think there needs to be more action,’’ said Lisa Derrick, a Los-Angeles-based blogger and one of those gathered in Pittsburgh for the annual Netroots Nation convention.

Rumblings on the left could spell trouble down the road for the president and for other Democrats. The group is threatening to run ads against moderate and conservative Democrats who don’t toe the line on Obama’s health care overhaul push.

The White House hasn’t forgotten the bloggers Obama courted in the presidential campaign. His team has elevated the Internet presence of the White House. And senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett will be here in Pittsburgh to address the Netroots convention.

With denim everywhere, the convention’s informal atmosphere reflects the vast election support Obama garnered among youngish, tech-savvy people, many of whom became involved in the political process for the first time.

After actively helping Obama defeat the less computer-savvy John McCain - often employing Web-based organizing - many now refuse to relinquish their newly discovered role in democracy, determined to remain vigilant in ensuring the president makes good on campaign promises.

There is disappointment, many say, that Obama has not actively pursued what they call Bush-era crimes - from torture in the terrorism war to a blurring of lines at home between the Department of Justice and the White House. Some also think Obama ought to be getting out of Iraq faster. They want him to do away with the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy.

And they view the health care debate with trepidation, saying Obama has not provided a clear plan or spoken out strongly enough against hard-line critics who have turned some lawmakers’ town hall meetings into screaming matches. Now, they say, Obama is on the defensive, weakening his attempt to overhaul the system.

“They’re compromising too easy, too soon,’’ said David DeAngelo, a Pittsburgh-based blogger who writes on the website 2politicaljunkies.

“But on the other hand, it’s going so much better than a McCain presidency would have,’’ DeAngelo added.

DeAngelo’s blogging partner, Maria Lupinacci, who initially supported Hillary Rodham Clinton, said that if Obama does not provide a viable public health care option to compete against the private sector, he will lose the support of progressive liberals.

Despite the criticism, the blogging duo stops short of outright disappointment.

“I always saw him as a good, liberal Democrat. I never saw him as progressive, so he’s doing what I expected,’’ Lupinacci said.