Okay, here is the thing, Joan.
No one who voted for the Democrats in 2008 expected "miracles." But we did expect a lot more than what we got. The main thing we expected was a president who, unlike the typical Democratic politician, had some spine and would stand up to their opponents over policies they were supposed to firmly believe in with the same degree of vitriol and conviction that the Republicans routinely stand up to the Democrats over--and which the Democrats appear to reserve exclusively for when they stand up to their base, but almost never their opponents. This is the same base that elected them and actually expected them to live up to their promises and policy stances during the election campaign and to actually act like they took American values seriously and didn't continuously repudiate them or dismiss them as "unrealistic" or "unserious."
Further, please note all the evidence that Obama had every intention of selling us out on the public option deal in health care before he was even elected, and he never for one second had the kahunas to fight for a single-payer system. Instead, he said something along the lines of, "What works for Canada wouldn't work in the U.S." Could that perhaps translate into, "It wouldn't work here because the corporate interests who profit so much from the healthcare industry wouldn't go for it, and since they generously donated to my campaign coffers due to the fact that I refused to run entirely on public financing I am not about to go against them. Also, I honestly believe that our base asks for too much." Mmm-hmmm. That's typical U.S. Democratic optimism, courage, and conviction for you. "Pragmatism" trumps conviction for the Democratic politicians every step of the way. Is it any wonder that the base is disappointed and sick of all of this "business as usual" nonsense, especially when a certain candidate claimed to be so "different" from the rest during this campaign?
Also, Joan, are we supposed to overlook Obama's dismal record on civil liberties? It isn't just about the stimulus, the healthcare issue, and the bank bail-outs, as important as all of those things certainly are. Those of us who take quaint little things like our civil liberties seriously have more than a legitimate reason to complain (read: "whine") about the president's deplorable record on the expansion of the surveillance state, refusing to repeal most of the Bush/Cheney attacks on our civil liberties and instead embracing and even exacerbating many of them, his refusal to close Guantanamo and other "black" prisons, his strong support for military tribunals instead of civilian trials for accused (and sometimes unaccused) terrorists, his refusal to get our troops out of the Middle East quagmire, his support of murdering American citizens without due process or judicial review, his constant opposition to governmental transparency by invoking the tired old "state secrets" paradigm, his support of extraordinary rendition policies, and his refusal to hold the previous administration accountable for their flagrant law-breaking ("let's look forward, not backward, people"). Are you or anyone else seriously suggesting that the president has done a "stand up" job when it comes to this, and that we who take American values seriously are "whining" too much when we complain about these things? If so, then I am not sure what alternate reality you have spent the past two years living in (kudos to Tom Tomorrow!).
And yes, I am going to vote Democratic in November of '10, as I agree with you that the great majority of progressives will do. Just as I and the rest of the progressives did in the '08 general election. But the problem, Joan, is that we will be doing so simply to keep what we believe to be the lesser of two evils in power, and because we have no viable alternative to two myopic, corporate-centric political parties that are increasingly becoming indistinguishable from each other on matters such as economic justice, classism (a word all Democrats dare not even invoke!), civil rights, and foreign policies. So I'm sorry, but with a president and vice president who support such policies, I cannot find myself loving them simply because Uncle Barack and Uncle Joe usually have charming personalities and come off articulately when they speak in public. What other reason is there for you to love good old Uncle Joe, Joan? It certainly cannot be due to his devotion to the democratic and progressive ideals that you and I hold so dear.
I think it's very telling that the only reason the Democrats will get any support at all from a base they continuously loathe and sell out due to reasons of "pragmatism" and "reality" (i.e., because they love and benefit from the corporate nature of our system as much as any Republican politician does) is because there is no viable third party alternative, an alternative that truly supports American values and working class interests.