Obama's opponents also need to find evidence that their reading of him back in November was correct. They therefore seize on "confirmation" that he wants to, for instance, redistribute the wealth, as in his “spread the wealth around” remark to Joe the Plumber —finding such confirmation in the claims that health-care reform will do just that, redistributing health care from those who have it now to the 46 million currently uninsured. Similarly, they seize on anything that confirms the “socialist” label that got pinned on Obama during the campaign, or the pro-abortion label—anything to comfort themselves that they made the right choice last November.
Cinema, television, literature, past and present, are all filled with important figures who are morally reprehensible, in some cases criminal. And I write about them. People make bad films, in some cases disgusting or depraved films, and I write about them, with a jaundiced eye, I would hope. Mike Tyson, who was convicted of rape and has a long history of criminal battery outside the ring, had a show on Broadway and remains a fixture on television and in films, and Norman Mailer continued to produce notable work decades after stabbing his wife. They were written about, and very few cases did reviews fail to mention the unsavory aspects of their character. You factor that stuff in when you write. Sometimes you are explicit, sometimes you are subtle, but you factor it in.
During the New Deal, liberals recognized that the ballot box and elected branches are generally the appropriate engines of social reform, and liberals used both to spectacular effect — instituting profound social changes that remain deeply ingrained in society today. In the face of great skepticism about the constitutionality of New Deal measures in some corners, a generation of Democratic-appointed judges, from Louis Brandeis to Byron White, argued for judicial restraint and deference to the right of Congress to experiment with economic and social policy. Those voices have been all but forgotten in recent years among liberal activists. It would be a very good thing for all involved — the country, an independent judiciary, and the Left itself — if liberals take a page from David von Drehle and their own judges of the New Deal era, kick their addiction to constitutional litigation, and return to their New Deal roots of trying to win elections rather than lawsuits.