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James Bennet, in the Atlantic’s annual “Ideas” issue, writes an entry called “Obama Is No Liberal.” It starts like this:

It was a beautiful moment when Barack Obama, with his election, drew the left and right together in one powerful conviction: that he was a raging lefty.

I’ve heard variations on this many times, but where does it come from? The right certainly invested itself in a narrative of all-but-Marxism to galvanize the troops in opposition to Obama, but the left? Maybe I’m just hanging out in the wrong precincts, but it seems to me that the left pretty much always saw Obama as a pragmatic, mainstream liberal. Seriously: who on the left ever claimed Obama as a fellow “raging lefty”? (I’d ask Bennet to “name one,” but hell, there probably is one. There always is. So how about naming half a dozen? That shouldn’t be hard if left and right really were drawn together in this powerful conviction.)

It’s fair to say that a lot of liberals hoped to accomplish more than we have. But it’s really not fair to say that most liberals ever viewed Obama as a raging lefty. Better ideas, please.

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