President Obama’s unabashedly progressive second inaugural address sent conservatives into a tailspin. Having blocked his agenda for four years, they now criticize him for a speech that failed to reach out to the right.
Cross Roads GPS, the Karl Rove-backed non-profit group, warned followers of the tide of liberalism to come under the next four years of Obama’s leadership. The new video posted on Tuesday showcases TV pundits declaring the president’s speech “unapologetically liberal” and a sign he’s “laying out his agenda.”
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared “the era of liberalism is back” in response to the president’s 18-minute speech, which laid out broad strokes of his goals for the next four years.
“It was basically a liberal agenda directed at an America that we still believe is center-right, and I don’t think that’s a great way to start off the second term if your idea here is to achieve bipartisan solutions,” said McConnell, who famously vowed to make sure Obama was only a “one-term president.”
Perhaps McConnell was expecting the Obama of 2009. Four years ago, the president struck a more neutral tone in his first inaugural address saying, “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
Gone was Obama the politician who stressed the need to set aside partisan politics. With a decisive re-election bid under his belt, a confident Obama emerged, calling for government action on a clear range of issues like marriage equality, climate change, immigration and gun control. “Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time,” Obama told the crowd on Monday during his public address.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out to conservatives that they should move with the times. “Conservatives have never understood that: ‘when times change, so must we.’ And the day conservatives actually do understand that, they will no longer be conservatives.”
Republicans also criticized the president for themes he did not make the main focus of his speech. “We were reminded yesterday that this is a liberal president with a liberal agenda, which is why the words ‘spending’ and ‘debt’ were probably not included in that speech,” said Republican Sen. John Thune.
Fox News anchors similarly complained Obama’s speech only served to highlight his “liberal agenda” and community-minded approach, appealing very little to the other side of the aisle.
“If you were a supporter of Barack Obama—and particularly, a liberal supporter of Barack Obama—I think you were very pleased by this speech.” Chris Wallace continued, “I thought it was a real call to arms for a liberal agenda.”
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shot down the critics, urging them to “move past the name-calling phase.” He said, “A liberal speech? I really don’t know what that means.”
Not all GOP supporters fanned the flames of “liberalism” fear. In an op-ed titled “The Loyal Opposition,” RedState.com’s Erick Erickson faulted his fellow Republicans for perpetual “outrage, piss, and vinegar” towards the president–a trait “unbecoming of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.” His advice: lighten up and just sell better ideas to the American people.
“And if you must be angry, don’t be angry at a President doing what he set out to do, be angry at a Republican Establishment not doing . . . well . . . much of anything.”