MSNBC gives this story the headline "OBAMA DEFENDS 'LIBERAL' LABEL". But then includes the following meat to back this up:
"Oh, he's liberal,” [Obama] said. “He's liberal. Let me tell you something. There's nothing liberal about wanting to reduce money in politics that is common sense. There's nothing liberal about wanting to make sure [our soldiers] are treated properly when they come home.”
Continuing on his riff: "There's nothing liberal about wanting to make sure that everybody has healthcare, but we are spending more on healthcare in this country than any other advanced country. We got more uninsured. There's nothing liberal about saying that doesn't make sense, and we should so something smarter with our health care system. Don't let them run that okie doke on you!"
Um, excuse me, but if one is defending "Liberal" then you don't do it by saying that there's "nothing liberal" about a whole list of good things. Far from a defense, Obama's comments feed right into the right-wing framing that says Liberalism isn't worth crap.
Now, I suspect the greater point Sen. Obama is trying to make is that wanting better access to healthcare is something that not JUST Liberals want. But his choice of words goes much further than that. It suggests that any of the good things Liberals have stood for for the last 50 years had NOTHING to do with Liberalism.
If there's nothing "Liberal" about these things, why bother being "Liberal" at all?
Is it any wonder so many people have problems self-identifying as "Liberal" when they hear things like this from Democrats?
(Chris Bowers has similar thoughts here)