Peter Beinart, the senior political writer for the Daily Beast, has joined Michael Moore, who recently ordered liberals to "Get Off Obama's Back." Beinart, who is also a professor of journalism and political Science, says that liberals need to "Lay Off Obama."
The irony of these two individuals trying to shield the president from criticism is very rich. Moore produced Fahrenheit 911 -- a 2-hour documentary that offers an extensive critique of the Bush administration and militarism. And as a journalism and political science professor, critical analysis should be as normal to Beinart as oxygen. Yet both Moore and Beinart have chastised liberals for criticizing Obama. Here's a message for both of them: Lay off Liberals.
I have written extensively on the subject of political dissent. Accordingly, I will not write much more in this post. Nonetheless, I will will take a moment to reiterate the historical fact that no social movement -- liberal or conservative -- has effectuated substantial change without engaging in dissent -- including public disagreement with political allies. The desire for change itself represents discontent with the status quo.
Because Obama campaigned largely on the promise of change, his supporters' efforts to condemn honest criticism of his policies contradict the most central message of campaign. "Yes we can" apparently means "no you can't."
Liberals should offer honest and constructive criticism of Obama when it is warranted. Anything less is disrespectful and unhelpful.