They’re bluffing. Left-wing Democrats are muttering about a primary challenge to President Obama in 2012. Some propose Howard Dean, others Russell Feingold.
The president shouldn’t worry overmuch.
Unlike Kennedy 1980, Reagan 1976, McCarthy 1968, neither Dean nor Feingold will run to win. They would run (if they run at all) to make a point, to draw a little blood, like McCloskey in 1972 or Buchanan in 1992. As 2012 approaches, Democrats will rethink their current warm feelings about Mitt Romney and demote him from The Responsible Republican (TM) to History’s Greatest Monster (TM). The Obama White House will corral wandering Democrats with deftly chosen culture war issues (DADT likely only the first in the series). As voting day approaches, white liberals in Iowa and New Hampshire will get cold feet. So for that matter will Feingold – sorry, that’s Ambassador Feingold – and Dean, both of whom will decide that they’d rather eat lunch in this town again.
Liberals take pride in the high educational attainments of their segment of the American electorate. Bad news: that means their segment can count. And the math says, primary challenge in January = Republican victory in November. They won’t do it, Obama knows they won’t do it, and they know that Obama does.