Defining a raging lefty

Kevin Drum takes on The Atlantic's James Bennet for his claim that both sides of the political aisle were united in 2008 behind the notion that Obama was a raging lefty. I'm not sure I totally agree with his assessment.
I've heard variations on this many times, but where does it come from? The right certainly invested itself in a narrative of all-but-Marxism to galvanize the troops in opposition to Obama, but the left? Maybe I'm just hanging in the wrong precincts, but it seems to me that the left pretty much always saw Obama as a pragmatic, mainstream liberal. Seriously: who on the left ever claimed Obama as a fellow "raging lefty"?
Maybe it depends on your definition of "raging lefty", but I think there were more than a few Democrats that fit the description that Kevin questions. During my time canvassing for his campaign, I found that the majority of the people I talked with fell into one of three categories (from least to most populous):
  • people that knew his record as a pragmatist and felt pretty good about it
  • people that knew his record, wished he was more liberal, but either decided they were ok with it or hoped that a liberal congress would pull him further to the left
  • people that just assumed that he was an uber liberal because he had such a progressive and unique campaign, without looking into his past history.
Surely the right's beliefs were rooted in a sort of Obama derangement syndrome, as Kevin points out. Having said that, I think there's some validity in Bennet's point insofar as their feelings about him were rooted more in what they wanted to believe he was than in what he actually was. Maybe that doesn't qualify as raging, but I wouldn't dismiss the idea out of hand.

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