Lurching Left: Media Identify Mainstream Positions As Part Of Obama's “Liberal Agenda”

The right-wing media are claiming that the “liberal agenda” President Obama outlined in his second inaugural address is out of the mainstream, even though polling has shown that the majority of Americans agree with Obama's stances on marriage equality, sustainable energy, and other issues.

Right-Wing Media Attempt To Place Obama's Inaugural Agenda Outside The Mainstream

Charles Krauthammer Suggests Opposing Cuts To Social Security, Medicare, And Medicaid Is Part Of Obama's “Liberal Agenda.” During Fox News' coverage of Obama's inauguration, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer suggested Obama's speech about supporting federal benefits, and expanding green energy and civil rights was an “ode to big government” and an outline of his “liberal agenda.” Krauthammer later claimed that Obama's speech was evidence that the president wants to “change the ideological trajectory of the country.” [Fox News, 1/21/13 via]

Peter Johnson Jr. Suggested Obama Gave A “Hard-Left Manifesto” By Pointing To “Phantom Arguments” In Terms Of Civil Rights And Global Warming. Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. appeared on Fox & Friends to attack the issues raised during Obama's second inaugural address as a “hard-left manifesto.” Johnson went on to claim that political moderates would react to the speech by asking " 'is this president in touch with the realities of America?' "

JOHNSON: What we heard was a far-left manifesto from the president of the United States yesterday at the inauguration. It was not so much about populism as it was about pandering, and it was a very bizarre, disordered priority of what our national interests were. Where was the debt? Where was the deficit? Where was the unemployment? Where was the issue of poverty in America, which has increased under his watch? Where is the hopelessness? Where is the fear that so many Americans have that they are going to lose their house? Where are the solutions for those problems? Instead, we got this catalog of false premises, phantom arguments in terms of civil rights, in terms of global warming, in terms of long lines at the polls. [Fox News, Fox & Friends1/22/13]

WSJ Suggests Obama's Agenda Is “Favored By Liberals” But Not Mainstream Voters.  In a January 22 article in The Wall Street Journal, Carol Lee described the policies listed by President Obama during his second inaugural address as “a list of domestic goals favored by liberals.” Lee pointed to “equal pay for women, expanded voting rights and a shift to sustainable energy sources”:

Mr. Obama, who took office facing two wars, made scant mention of foreign policy, a contrast from his first inaugural address, which was largely a repudiation of former-President George W. Bush's handling of foreign affairs.

Instead, Mr. Obama on Monday promoted a list of domestic goals favored by liberals, including equal pay for women, expanded voting rights and a shift to sustainable energy sources. He also became the first president to explicitly promote gay rights during an inaugural address. [The Wall Street Journal, 1/22/13]

Byron York Suggests Obama Was Strictly Appealing To His Base With Messages Like Immigration Reform, Gay Rights, Global Warming, And Expanding Green Energy Projects. In a piece in The Washington Examiner, columnist Byron York attacked Obama for focusing on issues only his “loyalists and activists” base would support:

That is a desperately bad situation. People know it. In poll after poll, Americans list jobs and the economy as the issue most important to the country. They've been saying the same thing every day Barack Obama has been in office.

And yet, in his inaugural address the president said essentially nothing about the nation's most pressing problem. Why?

Because he didn't have to. His base supporters -- loyalists and activists who would declare war on a Republican president with a similar unemployment rate -- continue to give Obama a pass on joblessness. There are other issues, like immigration reform, climate change and raising taxes, that excite them more than economic recovery.


There's no doubt they all greatly admire Obama and would truly like to see the economy improve. But when Obama's core supporters put no pressure on him to produce results on jobs, when they make excuses for him and blame his political adversaries, the result is a president who doesn't feel bound to address the nation's core problem. So he doesn't.

There were plenty of messages in Obama's speech. He will push for immigration reform. He will push for gay rights. (Obama used the words “equal” or “equality” seven times in his speech, versus just once in his first inaugural address.) He will push on global warming. And he will keep pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into “green energy” projects that have so far yielded little energy and fewer jobs.

But the economy? Other than declaring, “An economic recovery has begun,” Obama had nearly nothing to say. [The Washington Examiner1/21/13, emphasis added]

In Fact, A Majority Of Americans Agree With The President's Positions

A Majority Of Americans Support Marriage Equality

Pew: More Americans Favor Gay Marriage Than Those Who Oppose It. A Pew Research Center poll that has measured support for marriage equality since 1996 found that “the public has gradually become more supportive of granting legal recognition to same-sex marriages over the past 15 years.” Their poll found 48 percent favor marriage equality while 43 percent oppose it.

Politico Poll Shows That A Plurality Supports Gay Marriage. A poll conducted by Politico and George Washington University found that 64 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage or civil unions while only 24 percent of respondents thought that they should not be allowed to have any type of legal union. [Politico, 12/9/12]

Gallup: 53% Of Americans Favor Legalized Same-Sex Marriage. Gallup poll conducted in December 2012 found “53% of Americans believe same-sex marriages should be regonized by law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.” 

[Gallup, 12/5/12]

There Is Broad Support For Increasing Efforts To Reduce Global Warming

Yale University: 92% of Americans Say Developing Sources Of Clean Energy Should Be A Priority.  A Yale University study on public support for climate and energy policies also found that “A large majority of Americans (77%) say global warming should be a ”very high" (18%), “high” (25%), or “medium” priority (34%) for the president and Congress." The study added:

  • A large majority of Americans (77%) say global warming should be a “very high” (18%), “high” (25%), or “medium” priority (34%) for the president and Congress. One in four (23%) say it should be a low priority.
  • Nearly all Americans (92%) say the president and the Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a “very high” (31%), “high” (38%), or “medium” priority (23%). Very few say it should be a low priority (8%). [Yale University, 9/13/12]

Study: Voters In Four Swing States Found That A High Majority Want To Transition To More Sustainable Energy. A survey released by the American Council on Renewable Energy and the Advanced Energy Economy Ohio Institute found broad support for candidates who wanted to transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy:

A post-election energy survey released by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Advanced Energy Economy Ohio Institute (AEE Ohio Institute) confirmed that energy was a “very important” issue to the majority of voters in Virginia (60%), Ohio (57%), Iowa (58%), and Colorado (66%) in their vote decision:

These same voters also overwhelmingly expressed more support for candidates who want to move their states away from consuming coal and toward the production of cleaner sources of energy such as wind, solar, and natural gas. According to the survey, 75% of voters in Iowa, 72% of voters in Colorado and Virginia, and 69% of voters in Ohio said they wanted to transition away from fossil fuels. [American Council on Renewable Energy and Advanced Energy Economy Ohio Institute, 11/8/12, via Think Progress]

Study: Americans Support Increased Funding For Clean Energy And Tax Cuts For Renewable Energy. A national survey by the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy (ISTPP) at the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service in cooperation with the Texas A&M Energy Institute found broad support for increased funding for clean energy research and tax cuts for renewable energy companies:

According to the national survey, conducted by the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy (ISTPP) at the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service in cooperation with the Texas A&M Energy Institute, 59 percent of Americans support increased funding for research and development of renewable energy sources and 60 percent support tax cuts for companies to develop renewable energy technologies. Additionally, 78 percent of the public strongly favors better fuel efficiency for cars and trucks. [Texas A&M University, 11/9/12]

There Is Broad Support For Equal Pay For Women

Paycheck Fairness Act Coalition: New Polling Data Shows Voters Overwhelmingly Support The Paycheck Fairness Act. Study conducted by the Paycheck Fairness Act Coalition found that 86 percent of registered voters supported a law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace.  The study found strong support (72 percent) for “law will also make it harder for employers to justify paying different wages for the same work and ensure that businesses that break the law compensate women fairly.” [National Women's Law Center, 6/9/10]

Americans Support Immigration Reform With A Path To Citizenship

SEIU Poll: Strong Bipartisan Support For Immigration Reform That Includes Earned Citizenship. A Service Employees International Union poll found that 87 percent of Americans favored citizenship for undocumented immigrants at some point. The poll showed strong support of more than 80 percent in favor of earned citizenship with only 7 percent responding that undocumented immigrants should not be given a chance to earn citizenship. [Service Employees International Union, 1/18/13]

Pew: 72% Of Americans Support A Path To Citizenship For Unauthorized Immigrants. A 2011 Pew poll found that 71 percent of Americans in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The study found even stronger support among Hispanics, with 86 percent approving the establishment of a path to citizenship. [Pew Research Center, 5/4/11]

Americans Oppose Cutting Medicaid, Medicare, And Social Security

National Journal: Majority Believe Social Security And Medicare Should Not Be Cut At All. In a poll conducted by National Journal, 77 percent of respondents believed that Social Security should not be cut. Medicare found even more support with 79 percent of respondents saying they did not want any cuts at all to the program.  [National Journal12/3/12]

Pew Research Center Found A Majority Opposed To Cutting Social Security And Medicare To Reduce The DebtAn October 2012 Pew Research Center survey found that two-thirds of Americans support increasing taxes on Americans making more than $250,000, but do not support cutting popular programs like Social Security and Medicare: 

There also is resistance to making changes in Social Security and Medicare to reduce the debt and deficit: 57% oppose raising the amount Medicare recipients contribute to their health care, while 56% disapprove of gradually raising the Social Security retirement age. About as many disapprove (47%) as approve (49%) of reducing Medicare benefits for higher-income seniors. [Pew Research Center, 10/12/12]