Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Liberals want Obama to be a king, not a president

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 11:08 AM EDT, Fri June 8, 2012
Dean Obeidallah says some liberals want a ruler who would be unrestrained by Congress and the Constitution
Dean Obeidallah says some liberals want a ruler who would be unrestrained by Congress and the Constitution
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: A growing number of prominent liberals criticize President Obama
  • Jackson Browne, Matt Damon, John Cusack are among the critics
  • Obeidallah says they gloss over the fact that Obama needs Congress to get things done
  • He says critics seem to want a president with dictatorial power to impose his will

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy

New York (CNN) -- Can liberals ever be happy? I keep asking myself this question as I hear an increasing number complaining about President Obama.

There seems to be a Greek chorus of liberal whining: "I'm disappointed by him." "I expected more." "I thought he would be different."

Earlier this week, singer Jackson Browne, a vocal 2008 Obama supporter, lamented that President Obama is "...just as beholden to the people who put him in office as any of the Republicans would be."

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

Matt Damon, who had very publicly supported Obama in 2008, has now very publicly attacked President Obama. Damon even went so far as to heap praise on former President Bush, saying: "I would kiss George W. Bush on the mouth" in appreciation for his work fighting AIDS in Africa. Although Damon did note his kiss of Bush would be limited to: "Three seconds, no tongue."

Others turning on Obama include John Cusack, comedian/actor Jon Lovitz, and even the distinguished professor Cornel West, who called Obama: "A black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats."

Is Clinton a good surrogate for Obama?
'Gay Hollywood' rewards Obama

A new Gallup Poll released this week found that President Obama's support among liberals was at its lowest point in seven months, although it's still a solid majority of 70%.

What's clear is that the liberals speaking out don't want a president, they want a king. Albeit a liberal king -- but still a king, who would be unrestrained by Congress as well as the checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution.

These disenchanted liberals apparently wanted Obama -- upon taking office -- to have instantly transformed every campaign promise into law by the simple wave of a pen. Or maybe they would have preferred Obama to have walked out onto a White House balcony where, in a scene reminiscent of the musical "Evita," he would be greeted by adoring throngs waiting below, and on the spot, declare that all his ideas were now the law of the land.

But here's the problem. Barack Obama is not a king, he's the president of the United States. For those who may have forgotten the "Schoolhouse Rock" cartoon of "How a bill becomes a law," Congress needs to first pass the bill before it has any chance of becoming a law.

Our Founding Fathers set up a governmental structure that requires the president to engage in give and take with the legislative branch. Of course, if the Founding Fathers could see the current state of our dysfunctional Congress, they may have instead chosen a dictatorship. But they didn't, instead drafting a system to guard us against tyranny.

Consequently, President Obama is required to navigate through myriad vested interests that exercise influence on the 535 members of Congress. Keep in mind most of Congress was in office before President Obama was elected and most will be there when he leaves. Powerful members of Congress are like summer camp counselors and Obama is like the camper. He will only be there a relatively short amount of time, but they will remain to run the camp. And they know it.

Thus, as opposed to a king, a president has to engage in activity that some on the left view as a dirty word. That wicked word is: compromise.

In fairness, there are many on the far right who also disdain compromise. Who can forget tea party darling Herman Cain's statement: "...people are sick and tired of this word in Washington: compromise. This is why nothing ever gets done." (This is amazing logic, because you would normally think it was the lack of compromise that prevents things from getting done in Washington.)

To me, the liberals who are so very disappointed with President Obama either had unrealistic expectations for him, viewing him as a messianic figure who would magically solve all of our nation's woes, or simply refuse to grasp the reality of our American political system. In either case, the answer is: The problem is not Obama, it's you.

Being president requires some degree of compromise due to the very nature of our government. That is the way it has been for more than 200 years. While President Obama may be far from perfect -- and, I, too, have been disappointed with some of his decisions -- I certainly prefer him to a king.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:16 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 5:53 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 7:05 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT