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Some progressives casting a wary eye on Barack Obama

July 3, 2008 |  9:26 am

Part of every presidential campaign is the post-primary shuffle. That's when the Republican nominee tries to show centrist voters that he isn't really as conservative as he made himself out to be to win his party's base, and the presumptive Democratic nominee similarly tries to pull himBarack_obama_getting_pressure_by_soself in from the left.

The Swamp notes this morning that the perception among some progressives that Barack Obama is leaving the left for the center has given rise to an unusual way of tethering the candidate to their issues. They're putting their money on the table, hoping to raise $1 million in an "escrow" fund that Obama can't tap until he displays "progressive leadership" on issues.

The issue that sparked the mini-revolt was Obama's support for giving wiretapping immunity to the phone companies under the recent FISA vote, something he had earlier said he would oppose. In a memo to fellow progressives, Bob Fertik, president of, said he still backs Obama but thinks the candidate could use a little wake-up call from the folks who played a significant role in securing him the nomination.

We're asking you to put some of the money you plan to give Obama "in escrow" until he demonstrates progressive leadership on the issues we care about, like warrantless wiretapping.

We are absolutely not trying to hurt Obama -- we'll give him our money at some point. We're just asking for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T like Aretha Franklin sang about.

We can get Obama's respect because needs our money -- he turned down $85 million in taxpayer dollars because he believes small donors like us will contribute $300 million. And now is the best time to use our modest leverage, before the campaign goes all-out after the convention.

-- Scott Martelle

Photo: Francine Orr /Los Angeles Times