Saturday, July 11, 2009

Disillusioned turn on Obama as compromiser

Protesters unfurled a banner on Mount Rushmore this week in a criticism of President Obama’s stance on climate legislation

For environmental activists like Jessica Miller, 31, the passage of a major climate bill by the House last month should have been cause for euphoria. Instead she felt cheated. Ms. Miller, an activist with Greenpeace, had worked hard on her own time to elect Barack Obama because he directly and urgently addressed the issue nearest her heart: climate change.

So she worked to elect Obama president because she heard him address the issue that matters to her.

But over the last few months, as the ambitious climate legislation was watered down in the House without criticism from the president, Ms. Miller became disillusioned. She worried that the bill had been rendered meaningless — or had even undermined some goals Greenpeace had fought for. And she felt that the man she had thought of as her champion seemed oddly prone to compromise.

Compromise is the currency of politics. Does she think that the President could get his way without working with Congress? That is naive idealism based on petulance, not reality.

While most environmental groups formally supported the House bill, the road to passage proved unsettling for the movement. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Public Citizen opposed the bill; members of some other groups privately berated their leaders for going along with it. And some, like Ms. Miller, have shifted to open protest.

Few politicians make the transition from campaign trail to White House without sacrificing a few starry-eyed supporters along the way, of course.

Campaigning is one thing, governing a different one.

Still, the compromises that were made to win House approval by a 219-to-212 vote have left the president’s “green” base in some disarray.

It passed by 7 votes

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