atthew Yglesias' disagrees with Matt Taibbi's critique of president Obama (and Brad DeLong agrees with Yglesias). Yglesias reads Taibbi's critique as "the latest [article] ... claiming everything in the world would be great if only Barack Obama were more left-wing." Yglesias goes on to say that, Taibbi's article "suffers from the same basic conceptual flaw as the vast majority of this literature—it ignores congress." Yglesias and DeLong are, however, missing Taibbi's point.
The point is not that things would be rainbows and unicorns if Obama were more left-wing. The point is that neither Obama nor the Democratic party are putting up a fight against reactionary and obstructionist members of congress. On the one hand, politics is the art of the possible; on the other hand, you don't know what's not presently possible until you try to fight for it and lose.
I think liberals and progressives would have been much happier if we had arrived at what we have now on the economy, jobs, health care, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, by losing a vigorous political fight instead of lying down and passively complying with the Ben Nelsons, the Olympia Snowes, and the <spits on floor> Joe Liebermans.
Would we have better bills from congress if the Democrats were actually fighting against the Republicans, if Obama were actually fighting against the Blue Dog Democrats? Perhaps not.
My grandfather used to curse any baseball player who took a called third strike: "We're not paying you to look at the ball!" There's no guarantee you'll get a hit if you take a swing, but you're guaranteed to not get a hit if you don't take a swing. We didn't elect Obama and give him a Democratic majority to look at the ball. Take a few swings, you bastards!