Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

August 10, 2010

GIBBS' 'INARTFUL' MISTAKE.... I was tempted to skip the story of the day, because I find the back and forth wearying. The Democrats' progressive base gets justifiably frustrated with the pace of progress; the White House gets justifiably frustrated when the president and his team don't get credit for their accomplishments, even from allies. This isn't especially new, or even unique to this administration.

Nevertheless, the tensions continue to simmer, leading to foolish, preventable mistakes, which come alongside larger truths.

During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.

"I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested," Gibbs said. "I mean, it's crazy."

The press secretary dismissed the "professional left" in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality."

I know why Gibbs is frustrated. I can even understand some of it. What I can't understand is what made Gibbs think it was a good idea to complain about the left to a reporter three months before an election in which Republicans already enjoy an enthusiasm-gap edge.

Even if Gibbs is genuinely frustrated, and even if he has reason to be, where's the upside in criticism like this, when the WH press secretary's focus should be on President Obama's accomplishments and Republicans' descent into madness? Gibbs no doubt finds it deeply unhelpful when some on the left trash the White House and dampen enthusiasm of voters Democrats clearly need, but by blasting the "professional left," Gibbs only offers additional rhetorical ammunition to those same liberals who will keep trashing the White House.

Worse, he's painted with far too broad a brush. I suspect Gibbs' criticism was directed, for example, at those on the left who worked with conservatives to try to kill health care reform, not those who backed health care reform but still wanted a public option. But by blasting the "professional left" broadly, Gibbs seemed to be taking a shot at his own allies.

This morning, just a few hours after The Hill story was published, Gibbs walked back his "inartful" criticism. After highlighting some of the administration's accomplishments, he added, "In November, America will get to choose between going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess, or moving forward with the policies that are leading us out. So we should all, me included, stop fighting each other and arguing about our differences on certain policies, and instead work together to make sure everyone knows what is at stake because we've come too far to turn back now."

The White House line on criticism from the left need not be difficult. Indeed, President Obama made it just last month in a video message to Netroots Nation: "What I'm asking you is to keep making your voices heard. To keep holding me accountable. To keep up the fight. Change is hard, but if we've learned anything these past 18 months, it's that change is possible.... Let's finish what we've started." Gibbs' published remarks contradicted this message in a deeply unhelpful way.

In the larger sense, something happens when the pressure's on and the winds are moving in the other direction: some people start to lose their cool. A level head would tell Gibbs not to criticize ostensible allies on the left, even if some of the criticism is justifiable. He thinks condemnations of the White House from the left are unhelpful -- and many of them are -- but it's no better when he relies on a caricature to suggest the "professional left" wants to "eliminate the Pentagon."

If I had to guess -- and admittedly, this is only a guess -- Gibbs' remarks probably weren't part of a coordinated triangulation strategy, but rather, a moment when his emotions got the better of him. That happens sometimes; we're human.

But for the White House, it would be wise to let this be a low point for intra-party tensions, and for it to be followed by a concerted effort to put things right. The left wants to fight the Republicans undermining the national agenda; the left wants to support an ambitious Democratic agenda; and the left wants to keep a Democratic majority on Capitol Hill.

The left, however, needs some help in making this fight happen -- and making sure the fight goes well. Gibbs forgot this week just how positive a role he and the West Wing can play in leading the left/liberals/progressives/Democrats. Here's hoping he'll remember from now on.

Steve Benen 12:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (131)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I think its also important to point out that its not the job of the professional left to pat the white house on the back. Their job is to move the discourse and the negotiation to the left. They don't help in any political sense if they are taking the same position in the debate as friggin' Evan Bayh.

Posted by: brent on August 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

To his credit, Gibbs is a little less like Ari Fleischer than Obama is like Bush, but they so often make it hard to tell the difference.

Wait, there is one big difference. Bush didn't repeatedly insult his base the way Gibbs, Emanuel, and Obama do.

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

brent that might be true if the far left didn't threaten to not vote,vote against and generally whine every time they don't get precisely what they want.
How about facing reality instead of living in never never land. We could always go back to Bush/Darth Cheney. That's not likely given the current crop of repubs. It will be much worse.

Posted by: Gandalf on August 10, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you need to understand Gibbs is not talking about rank-and-file Democrats, but about those who have largely been announcing throughout the blogosphere for a good few months that they will sit out the mid-terms, never vote Democratic again, and primary Obama in 2012.

They were against all the good in HCR because it was not single-payer; they ignore any good the administration does in favor of harping on whatever single issue is their most beloved on which the President hasn't been progressive enough to their satisfaction; they scour the internet for negative articles to daily post on Democrats and the President on other websites; and NOTHING is ever good enough or makes a wit of difference to their perception of the President as a "corporatist."

I don't think Gibbs has alienated "the left." He has simply told the truth about the far left, who have loudly announced they weren't going to vote/were going to vote third-party anyway.

Posted by: June on August 10, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Funny how stating the truth is usually considered to be politically maladroit.

Posted by: Jon on August 10, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I agree wholeheartedly with Gibbs. And your response, Steve, was to defend those who find it necessary to bash this administration for everything. You have been better than most but you cannot write an article without saying this should be better or that could have gone farther. I agree with Gibbs and I am sick of the left bloggers. Don't worry, very soon you can get back to what you do best - complain about the the Rebublican majority.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I find most of the left is far to willing to be led down the path to destruction. I am pretty left but I prefer to deal in reality. FDLers, left over Hillary-ites and Nader-ites, I hear from them all the time. Their nonsense is as insane as the rights, even if their policy ideas are more desirable. The nonsensical whining plays directly into the hands of the right, who at this time in our history really, really needs to be stopped. Gibbs is frustrated, maybe it is sign for us that agree with him to talk a little sense into our "fellow travelers".

Posted by: KK on August 10, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

June on August 10

Well said and thank you for saying it. I think the voters need to take back the party form the bloggers.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's fine that the Left wants to keep the Obama Administration "honest" and to criticize when liberal goals are deferred or not pursued.

But would it hurt so much to acknowledge that this administration is actually trying to do something, particularly when it is confronted with the most partisan and hostile opposition since the Civil War?

A little perspective from the lefties would be helpful.

Posted by: CT on August 10, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Activist liberals should be reminded Obama has passed more significant progressive legislation in 18 months than passed in the previous 30 years. Furthermore ,if improving those pieces of legislation is the goal, the solution is to maintain democratic majorities in both houses and re-elect Obama to a second term. What is the likelihood of passing cap-and-trade or reasonable immigration reform is the republicans regain the house?

Posted by: RolloTomasi on August 10, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

I breathlessly await his criticism of the professional Blue Dogs who give every indication they favor (and vote for) "going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess"

Posted by: martin on August 10, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I would not put Steve in the category of the hysterical left. Logical reactions aren't the problem. In his first paragraph Steve bemoans the enthusiasm gap.

Posted by: KK on August 10, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Having lived in Canada for several years, I have to admit that yes, yes I would be satisfied if we had Canadian healthcare. And in fact I really would turn the U.S. into Canada in a heartbeat if I could.

The only problem is that Harper and the Conservatives are trying just as hard to turn Canada into the U.S.

Posted by: John on August 10, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I find most of the left is far to willing to be led down the path to destruction.

They're not being led, they're leading themselves, or more accurately, following a will-o-the-wisp, to wit, politics without politicians.

The same dream is popular on the right -- the Palinite movement, however different in the policies it is chasing, doesn't differ that much in its politics.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 10, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Quote: 'I suspect Gibbs' criticism was directed, for example, at those on the left who worked with conservatives to try to kill health care reform'

Name one legislator, 'on the left', who banded with conservatives to kill HCR. I'm not talking about DINOs, those lickspittles with a D after their names but no progressive principles, name me a real liberal who tried to thwart Obama. And again, I'm not refering to such a person who merely spoke out for a stronger HCR bill, thus hurting Gibbs' delicate feelings, name me a liberal who stood in Obama's way and voted against the final HCR bill

Posted by: BillFromPA on August 10, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

The "Left" should stop compare the most Liberal president in decades to George Bush. That is all.

Posted by: impik on August 10, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, Gandalf, June, KK, others.

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Word, tiredofgreed.

Steve, this is disappointing. I didn't think you'll join the nonsense.

Posted by: impik on August 10, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

What you don't address in your post, and what makes me angriest about Gibbs' statement, is that he is using right wing talking points (drug testing, eliminate the pentagon, etc.) to smear people in his own party. I would expect these tropes from a McCain White House, but coming from an Obama White House, they're inexcusable. Especially coming so soon after another member of the Obama administration caved to right wing propaganda in the Sherrod firing, it makes me doubt not just the core values of this administration, but just as importantly, their political acumen in attacking their base months before an election.

Posted by: el_gallo on August 10, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

@bill

Nobody said a legislator. Probably referring to Jane Hamsher's love affair with Grover Norquist.

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't Gibbs & the other White House people bitch about the Blue Dogs, Lieberman, Snowe, Collins and the pundits as much and as snarkily as they do about the "left" ? Well, they can maintain their credibility with the kewl kids by picking on the hippies !

Posted by: H-Bob on August 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

No one is referring to legislators (although Feingold voted against Wall St. reg bill from the left). We and Gibbs are likely referring to things like the 12 million FDL emails I get telling me Obama is a sell out, and my Hillary-ite activist friends that insist he is a "complete lightweight, just like Bush". A ridiculous, counter productive and insulting attack. All it does is associate Obama=Bush in the minds of swing voters.

Posted by: KK on August 10, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Right-wing hack Glen Beck barks and they fire the black woman; Gibbs takes a dump on liberals and they . . .. I'm not holding my breath. But seriously, Democrats should mind their base once an election or so.

Posted by: Chuck on August 10, 2010 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck The Obomination and his center-right staff! Especially Rahm Emmanuel!

Sooner or later, we are going to have to go to a single payer health care system. Costs will NEVER be brought under control with our for-profit health care system. The Canadian model would sell to the Amerikan Sheeple much better than the English model.

No, I do not want the Pentagon to disappear. Yes, I do want to see it severely downsized. What fucking justification is there for our country to spend more on the military than the rest of the countries on the planet combined? Does anyone really think that we are getting our money's worth from our military spending?

Yes, I will vote to reelect my democratic representative this fall (Andre Carson). Yes, I will vote to elect the DINO running for the senate in Indiana. Only because he is running against a corporately selected Rethugnican lobbyist!

Yes, in 2012, there is ZERO chance that I will not vote or that I would vote for any possible Rethug presidential candidate.

Yes, I am severely disappointed in The Obomination! I believe that he abdicated his oath of office to protect the Constititution and defend the laws of our country when he declared that "we have to look forward" and refused to allow the needed investigations of the Bush Criminal Enterprise that rules from 2001 thru 2008.

Yes, I see a failure to quickly nominate Elizabeth Warren as symptomatic of the Obomination White House. Yes, I see the departure of his economic advisor as symptomatic of the Obomination White House. I see the Obomination White House being run by corporate toadies and those who are supportive of working people not listened to and moved out!

I get up every morning and thank my god that John McCrap is not the president. I then thank my god twice that Billary Clinton is not the president. Unfortunately, I do not find reason to thank my god that Obama is the president!

Posted by: AngryOldVet on August 10, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

"I think its also important to point out that its not the job of the professional left to pat the white house on the back. Their job is to move the discourse and the negotiation to the left."

Moving the discourse is great, coming across as a pack of hyenas is entirely another, and in many, many instances that's the way the left has behaved. Huffington Post seems positively giddy if they can put a huge banner headline on their site slamming Obama. The threats to stay home in November, the non-stop pouting over everything...its beginning to sound like really annoying petulant children.

So stay home in November if you're that disappointed. If you think there isn't far worse than George Bush waiting in the wings you're sadly mistaken.

Posted by: SaintZak on August 10, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

A diarist at Kos speculated that Gibbs was referring to Ed Schulz, who has called for Democratic voters to sit out the 2010 elections on his MSNBC show. Perhaps that's what Gibbs meant by the "professional left," as opposed to left-leaning persons in the general public who don't earn their money talking five nights a week on a cable TV show.

Posted by: DJ on August 10, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

elgallo: what makes me angriest about Gibbs' statement, is that he is using right wing talking points ... to smear people in his own party.

angryoldasshole: Fuck The Obomination

Excuse me? Who's using right-wing smears? You're even following the Rove playbook, blaming Gibbs for the exact tactics of the fringe left.

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

First, I am just as frustrated by those who think there is no difference between Obama and Bush/Cheney as anyone. I have been rather scathing in my comments here and at a couple other liberal blogs that I frequent.

That said, I agree that Gibbs' comments were unhelpful and ill-advised. First, since he doesn't name names, and since none of those who refuse to give the administration credit for anything are in high-visibility positions, it is not clear he is making any distinction between the die-hard cynics and say, Paul Krugman.

Second, the critics on the left are probably more of a threat electorally than the Blue-dog Democrats but the Blue-dogs are more of a threat to enacting good legislation. And the relatively hostile and thoroughly superficial press coverage is a greater threat to both than anything except the Republicans.

Admittedly, attacking the Blue-dogs or the pres is a good way to turn them even more hostile, but why would he think it is a good strategy with the Left?

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 10, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

All the Obama-apologists here must have Benen on their auto-update lists. Let's see, it's taken less that five minutes for five (no, six...no wait, there's seven or eight of you now) professional rah-rah-Obamabots to show up and further insult progressive lefties that voted for Obama (and got dozens of other Democrats elected to Congress in 2006 and 2008).

Progressive left ideas, ideas that Obama campaigned on, have time and again been eliminated from debate because Obama and his minions refused to let them be heard. A larger stimulus bill, public option, real reform of the finance industry, were never considered because Obama outright prevented their consideration. He failed to administer HAMP and thousands have unnecessarily lost their homes because of it. Indefinite detention of so-called terrorists continues. The wars in the middle-east continue at the same cost in lives and treasure as under Bush. Unemployment was supposed to top out at 8.5% a year ago but a year later the rate is stuck officially at 9.5% for over six months with the real rate (including the hundreds of thousands of new workers entering the work force every month that have never been employed and the addition 1.5 million or so that have given up looking) is likely closer to 11%; yet month after month the Obama White House refuses to identify unemployment as the national economic emergency it has been for a year and a half now.

Maybe it's true and Obama did the best he could do. Maybe he just didn't have it in him to stand up to the banksters and Republicans, to shame them effectively, and battle them into submission on the progressive position he campaigned for. Even if that's so, it's not up to those that disagree with his results to defend him; the opposite. To most of us it just looks like he didn't bother to try.

Either way, running down the millions of Democrats that are discouraged as Gibbs has done, as many here do as quickly as they can, doesn't help Democrats retain majorities in Congress this fall. It exacerbates the problem.

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

If the commentors on this blog are any indication, Gibbs has plenty of reason to be pissed. I hear so much nonsense about "jobs" and how the goverment bailed out wallstreet and forgot Main Street, with little or no acknowledgment of the deep interconnectedness of our economy. If Wall Street had imploded, there wouldn't be much left of Main Street either. The corporation haters on the left are as irrational as the government haters on the right. Any serious discussion of solutions must be conducted in the realm of the possible, not the ideological. We are so interested in ranting about Afganistan, or the economy, or the Gulf oil disaster, that reasoned political discourse is the first victim.

I visit this blog daily, and I have learned a great deal from the regular commenters. It is a good place to vent on occassion. But a lot of what I hear on this blog sounds more like run-of-the-mill leftist anarchism. It is simply not connected to any concept of reality that will result in the creation of good policy or improve the lives of all Americans. Blowing things up, just because, is not a sustainable policy.

Obama is a center-left President. If you think there would have been Fin.Reg. reform, health care reform, or stimulus of any kind under McCain or Bush, then I've got some AIG CDOs that might be on interest to you. He should be commended for attempting to tackle the big problems facing our Country, and challenged to continue the fight.

Politics is tribal. Obama has my loyalty because, regardless of the faults of his administration, he is far preferrable to the other tribe that wants control.

Posted by: Scott F. on August 10, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, this comes, what, two months after the White House trashed the Unions for standing up to the DCCC? Why do Democrats try to keep distancing their base for minor criticisms, while Republicans will embrace their regardless of the insanity they spout?

Posted by: sjk on August 10, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Nobody said a legislator. Probably referring to Jane Hamsher's love affair with Grover Norquist."

Jane Hamsher partnered with Norquist (and others) to call for an investigation into Rahm's activities at Freddie Mac. It had nothing whatsoever to do with health care reform. Geez, people, get your facts straight.

I don't agree with everything Jane supports, but some of this criticism of FDL is very misguided.

Posted by: msmolly on August 10, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

AngryVet,
I love the spirit and I am very sympathetic. Wanna complain? Keep it in house, don't feed the meme of incompetence.
Was gonna mention Schultz's nonsensical garbage, Nader-ite logic.

Posted by: KK on August 10, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

It's been pretty obvious that essentially Obama is trying to appeal to the mythical "moderate" swing state voter. In my opinion, the few people who are left in that category are probably dumb as rocks and it doesn't make a lot of sense to me why you would turn your backs on the people that got you into office in the first place, but hey...

As to the whole left/right thing... it needs to go. I don't think there are large numbers of people that self-identify as "the left". I think instead there are a whole lot of people that want "reform" and are hugely disappointed with what has come from this administration. Certainly there are millions of excuses that can be offered about why we have seen so little real reform, but in the end a broken campaign promise is a broken campaign promise.

Posted by: spiny on August 10, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

All of Obama's accomplishments don't add up to much when unemployment is at 9.5 percent and foreclosures are through the ceiling. And Obama and Co. don't appear to think this is an emergency. This is why things seem so effed up in this country, and why the Republicans are going to win big in November.

Posted by: Steve on August 10, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

NealB on August 10, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Hear hear!

Posted by: msmolly on August 10, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

On a more general note, I think Gibbs has not been distinguished in his performance as press secretary. He's better than many have been in that role, but he's not good enough for this administration in these times.

Posted by: brucds on August 10, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

@NealB

Thank you for demonstrating why I almost didn't write my previous post. If there was anyone like you that Gibbs' could point to that had a nationally syndicated column, or a seat in Congress, then his remarks would have been entirely appropriate.

Paul Krugman agress with you (as do I) that the stimulus should have been bigger, the health care bill should have started out more progressive so that we ended up with after the inevitable compromises was stronger than it was, etc. Where we part ways is your stupid suggestion that Obama doesn't care or that what we finally got isn't any better than what we had before.

And speaking of name calling, terms like Obama-apologists or Obamabots are just as unhelpful and just as much an echo of right-wing talking points as anything Gibbs said.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 10, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Do you think for one second this isn't a calculated statement, like almost everything from O land? So he makes some comment about the professional left?? This looks like a ploy to look better to the middle.

And, more to the point, contributes nothing to the issues that we need to address.

Oh, btw - 14 million pakistanis are struggling with the worst floods there in 80 yrs.

etc ...

Posted by: bigtuna on August 10, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

The problem -- as seen in comments here -- is that ANY criticism by the left is treated as if it's the same as that coming from the right. And it's not as if this White House hasn't been punching hippies for the past 19 months -- they have. Repeatedly.

So what we get is those who either tell those with legit gripes to STFU, that they live in never never land, or are pushing for things that will never get passed.

As sjk noted, one of the reasons the left loses the information battle is because Democrats are consistently bashing their base, insulting those who got them into office, and just generally treat like shit those who support them.

Maybe if they stopped attacking the very people who got them into power, it'd be a bit different ...

Posted by: Mark D on August 10, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Look, this is the press secretary. He never says what he really thinks. He's always on message. Unless he's decided to ditch his job and melt down on camera, this was a calculated statement. So what would the reason be? Well, if Rahm Emmanuel is still in charge, and here's no reason to think he isn't, we're seeing another run to the center. The administration thinks that it can Sista Souljah their way to a win in 2010. But this time they're wrong. There is no middle ground. They are telling their base to stay home and not vote for them in an effort to pick up non-existent centrists. Let's see how that works out.

Posted by: Bloix on August 10, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

tanstaffl:

I didn't say "Obama doesn't care," I said "it looks like he didn't bother to try." Maybe a subtle difference, but not the same thing.

As far as things being better than they were before, in fact, in real economic terms, they're not. They're worse for almost everyone. And they don't look to be getting better any time soon.

I'll defend Obama and Democrats over Republicans seven days a week but it's such a ridiculous comparison I don't think it needs to be made. The better question is when will Obama actually improve the day-to-day lives of tens of millions of Americans that have suffered and lost so much because of Republican malfeasance? So far, Obama hasn't made much progress there.

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

The first rule of politics is to always take care of your base. Gibbs, and to a lesser extent Obama, need to remember that. The GOP always takes care of its base, which is why it is winning the enthusiasm battle right now and threating to recapture Congress in November.

At a larger level, it seems like Gibbs doesn't understand why the left is dissatisfied with Obama, which is rather worrying.

The reason that the left is upset is that Obama has not fought for the issues that matter to them. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still chugging along with no end in sight, Guantanamo is still open, and on civil liberties Obama has embraced the policies of the Bush Administration rather than rejecting them.

And while the passage of HCR is a major accomplishment, the fact that Obama refused to even make the argument for single-payer before compromising is something that infuriated many liberals. Its not that we didn't end up with single-payer that angers liberals...it's the fact that Obama refused to try and even fight for it.

The bottom line is that it doesn't matter how many votes you pick up in the center if your base doesn't turn out...something that Gibbs, Emanuel, and Obama need to realize sooner rather than later.

Posted by: mfw13 on August 10, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

bigtuna: Oh, btw - 14 million pakistanis are struggling with the worst floods there in 80 yrs.

Looking for a way to blame that on Obama too?

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

mfw: The bottom line is that it doesn't matter how many votes you pick up in the center if your base doesn't turn out...something that Gibbs, Emanuel, and Obama need to realize sooner rather than later.

No, that's something that the talking heads of the professional left (good moniker, Gibbs), who continue their intentional efforts to split the party, need to figure out unless they want to repeat 2001-2008.

But I guess Ed, Jane, et al wouldn't have any problem with that, since they make their money the same way as Fox, preying on the fear of people who can't face the real world.

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Obama and his defenders neither understand liberals nor demonstrate any effort to listen to them. This wouldn't be a problem if they didn't whine like babies whenever liberals fail to reflexively fall in line. Like Gibbs just did, Obama's defenders LOVE to construct idiotic strawmen to knock down.

From upthread:
June: "those who have largely been announcing throughout the blogosphere for a good few months that they will sit out the mid-terms, never vote Democratic again, and primary Obama in 2012."

cr: Jane Hamsher's love affair with Grover Norquist.

Scott F: If Wall Street had imploded, there wouldn't be much left of Main Street either. The corporation haters on the left are as irrational as the government haters on the right.

Posted by: square1 on August 10, 2010 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Have to laugh at the notion that the far left is Obama's "base" or ally. The far left and the "professional left" are neither. They've made that clear from the moment Pres. Obama was elected, getting started hurling vitriol at him even before he was sworn in.

Gibbs has certainly not alienated any allies with these comments. If the "professional left" is an ally of this White House, who needs enemies? They don't even meet the level of being a "frenemy." And Gibbs called them on it. He just made my already-high enthusiasm meter jump ten points or so.

Posted by: June on August 10, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Bloix. Being a "centrist" means never taking responsibility for your political decisions.

You keep hearing from the administration's defenders that the critics "will never vote for Democrats anyway" and represent an insignificant minority of "Far Left" thinking.

Really? If that is true then I suppose the WH has nothing to fear. They aren't losing any votes since the critics wouldn't be voting for them anyway.

Posted by: square1 on August 10, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Ari Fleischer, 2001: "Americans need to watch what they say, watch what they do". Statement was later walked back.

Robert Gibbs, 2010: "I hear these people saying hes like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested". Statement was later walked back.

There you are, decisive proof of a really huge difference between the Bush and Obama White Houses.

Posted by: smintheus on August 10, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Really? If that is true then I suppose the WH has nothing to fear. They aren't losing any votes since the critics wouldn't be voting for them anyway.

Exactly, square1. If Gibbs feared he was alienating a significant voter block, he certainly wouldn't have made these comments, would he?

Posted by: June on August 10, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has only been in office for 16 months and yet has passed more significant, quality legislation than probably any other president in history. Things are not perfect but only idiots would expect them to be after only 16 months knowing how bad things were at the end of Bush's reign. I think it is time to start shouting down the whiners and I fully support Gibb's comments. It was a good start.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist sitting in a tree.

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2009/12/strange-bedfellows-indeed

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

PS To any of the Obama supporters here that worry about "run-of-the-mill leftist anarchist," "blowing things up," "naderite," "drug-test-needing," Democrats not voting this fall: don't.

Nothing you'd be willing to admit will help. And by adding insult to the injuries a lot of 'those people' have already suffered, you make it more difficult to persuade them to get off their butts, hold their noses, and vote to reelect Democrats.

If that's what you really want, Obama backers, just try for the next few months to stop insulting them. Can you do that?

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Left is not the base of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Scott F. on August 10, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is trying to work in a system where everything is setup, Business, the media, Senate to protect and promote a center-right paradign. Every time I get mad at Obama I realize the forces he's up against to prevent ANY progressive change no matter how incremental, I also realize how radicalized and deranged the opposition party has become.

So he might not be my perfect progressive but compared to the institutions he's up against and where the Republican party is right now, Obama is Jesus Fucking Christ.

Posted by: Archon on August 10, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

NealB: If that's what you really want, Obama backers, just try for the next few months to stop insulting them. Can you do that?

Depends, can they?


Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry guys, but if you think the "professional left" is a bunch of pot-smoking hippies agitating to turn the Pentagon into a greenhouse, you'd better wake up. We're the ones who not only vote, but go out into neighborhoods and knock on doors and convince people face-to-face that the Democratic party has something to offer over the Republicans. If the White House is banking on people voting with them in November out of fear of Sharon Angle, it is going to be a very disappointing November 3rd (for all of us). I can stomach the compromises on health care and the corporate pandering, and I can disagree with the wire tapping & assassinations, but I find it very difficult to do all that and then be insulted for it by a man who's job is to be a professional liar. Maybe now Robert Gibbs can come up to New Hampshire and knock on doors for Paul Hodes.

Posted by: Jamobey on August 10, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

cr:

We can if you can. Send a memo to Gibbs, Emanuel, and Obama.....

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats dump on the left frequently. When do they ever dump on the right wing of the party this way? (And I don't mean "dump buckets of Dem contributor dollars," we know the Dem Party funds conservatives way out of proportion to others).

That's why I will not give a dime to any Democratic Party campaign committee. I give it to the likes of ActBlue, instead.

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on August 10, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

@NealB

Consider it done. You, on the other hand, might need more than a memo to Jane, Ed, AngryOldVet, Joe (from yesterday's comment rants), et al. If only you guys were as good of arm-twisters as LBJ (ha).

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, stalwart Obama supporters love to deride his critics, but rarely, if ever, argue on the merits of the criticisms. When Greenwald and others criticizes Obama, it's based on actual actions he has or hasn't taken, or is supported by evidence which contradicts his claims. I have yet to see a serious rebuttal from a center-right Dem (or anybody for that matter) to any of his assertions concerning Obama's pathetic civil liberties record.

Don't expect people who take civil liberties seriously to give Obama a pass on his furtherance/expansion of the Bush policies. Don't expect people who strongly believe in the merits of single payer/public option to sing his praises when Max Baucus doesn't even allow them a seat at the table and he says nothing. Don't expect people who agree with Paul Krugman (as I do) to voice support when he initially proposes a stimulus half as large as needed, with 30% of the amount set aside as worthless tax cuts. Why? Because we're not republicans and we don't roll that way (thank god).

What his critics are tired of is the timidity, the concessions before even engaging in debate. That's why the Sherrod affair struck a raw nerve. It's emblematic of Dem leadership's fear of the right-wing apparatus.

Obama is not running this fall, so I think all moderates and liberals will be looking to expand the number of rational legislators. But don't expect GOP-style lockstep cohesion.

Furthermore, if Obama survives the primary in 2012, he will likely get most, if not all, of the votes he did in '08 due to the sheer lunacy of the GOP. But he will face a much stiffer contest in the primary and will not receive the same kind of progressive support. I, for one, will be looking for a true progressive candidate.

If Obama critics are such a small minority, then Obama has nothing to worry about. But I'm pretty sure they know that's not the case, which is why Gibbs is freaking out.

Posted by: bdop4 on August 10, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

June: Fine. So if the Democrats continue to lose support over the next several election cycles, possibly including the loss of one or more houses of Congress or the White House will you be willing to admit that the Dems strategy of alienating liberals was flawed? Or will you revert to the tried-and-true tactic of blaming these alleged non-voters for not voting?

Posted by: square1 on August 10, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

To those tired of the Bush-Obama comparisons, please outline in what meaningful aspects Obama has distinguished himself from Bush regarding policy in the Middle East and national security surveillance. Please explain how Obama has reversed Bush policies that he once railed were unconstitutional regarding Guantanamo, wiretapping, or renditions. Please detail how Obama has not simply adopted and expanded the above mentioned odious Bush policies.

Thanks much.

Posted by: ckelly on August 10, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

NealB - "As far as things being better than they were before, in fact, in real economic terms, they're not. They're worse for almost everyone. And they don't look to be getting better any time soon."

Things are not better now? What a joke. Last I looked we are not shedding 750,000 jobs a month, the stock market isn't free fall and we are notin fear of a total economic collapse. Our economy is in a level trend because people are very careful now with hiring and with spending, a necessary step since we do not want to fall right back into the horrific behavior that got us here. Like all republicans, and I believe you are, you state obvious falsehoods over and over in hopes that someone will believe you. Nice try.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's not as if Obama supporters in the "professional" class or even in the "anonymous blog commenter" class don't understand why liberals want more from Obama. What me and others don't get is why those same liberals want to shoot themselves right in their own g*dd*mned foreheads to make their points. Pressure Obama of course. But never forget Obama and the Democratic Congress are for the foreseeable future our best vehicle for progressive change.

I've made this point constantly in various forums for years now but again ...

Reality is that we have powerful right-wing enemies. Obama is a force in his own right that we only have minor ability, if any, to control. Yet his goals and ours do merge and he IS our most powerful ally in the entire world. So ... PRAGMATICALLY ... working at cross-purposes to Obama is likely to not be a winning strategy. Better to compromise, cajole, snooker, and deal with Obama and the Democratic Congress while making sure to TURN OUT THE VOTE!

Progressive Change Stops in 2011 unless we TURN OUT THE VOTE!

Seriously folks, just ignore the grandstanders who seem to relish fighting over every petty insult and slight. More and better Democrats is the answer. What is NOT the answer is focusing on high school dramas because the President has hurt progressive feelings.

Posted by: Curt M on August 10, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Funny, stalwart Obama supporters love to deride his critics, but rarely, if ever, argue on the merits of the criticisms."

When the criticism is "Obama is no different than George Bush," there is no merit to argue.

Posted by: Jon on August 10, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Right on, Curt M.

Posted by: Jon on August 10, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

All this talk of bases. . . In the Democratic Party, the base consists of center-left progressives, not far-left Greenwaldians. In the Republican Party, the base consists of far-right Limbaughians, not center-right conservatives. Gibbs didn't insult the base of the Democratic Party; the base of the Democratic Party is generally very pleased with what Obama has been able to accomplish and has been supportive. He insulted the fringe. It would be like Huckabee calling someone a RINO, because the fringe of the Republican Party consists of a handful of moderates.

Posted by: rabbit on August 10, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

cr: I am a liberal, not a Democratic partisan. Like Jane Hamsher, I have no interest in turning a blind eye to Democratic corruption when it occurs. And Hamsher was 100% right that the shenanigans at Fannie Mae deserved to be investigated and Emanuel should have been booted long ago.

The difference between you and me is that I have principles and you have positions. And your positions change with the breeze.

You come here, day after day, defending Obama joining with Wall Street to screw the middle class; joining with Pete Peterson to destroy Social Security; joining with insurance companies to kill the Public Option; and joining with pharmaceutical companies to kill drug importation, etc. All that you can defend in the name of "pragmatism." You can defend Obama working with Fox News and Rupert Murdoch even as Glenn Beck spews racist insanity and hatred on a daily basis.
You can accept Obama joining with Andrew Breitbart to screw over ACORN and Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod. You can accept Obama joining with Republican critics to push Charlie Rangel into retirement.

But what you can't possibly tolerate is a liberal critic of a Beltway insider for corrupt activities. God forbid that Jane Hamsher join together with a Republican to criticize Rahm Emanuel! Suddenly "bipartisan" is a four-letter word. Funny how that works.


Posted by: square1 on August 10, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Consider it done. You, on the other hand, might need more than a memo to Jane, Ed, AngryOldVet, Joe (from yesterday's comment rants), et al. If only you guys were as good of arm-twisters as LBJ (ha)." -cr

I'll get a memo through to Jane, Ed, anonymous bloggers, et. al. But isn't it up to our elected leaders to set the good example, you know, to lead? Not bully their voters? Obama? His staff?

You imply that constituents need to STFU first, and then you will. This is what we've gotten from Obama/you almost from the day he took office.....

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly

This has been the problem with liberals. The issues you raise are valid but they are mixed in with hundreds of other just as important issues that have been addressed and have had positive outcomes. Dwelling on the negative all of the time is a habit for many liberals.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I second NealB.

There are those of us who support Obama and the Democrats, yet are disappointed in some of the decisions that have been made, and the apparent giving up without even trying to fight mentality on some of the biggest issues.

As I wrote the other day, those of us who point out the shortcomings of the Obama administration should not necessarily be cast as hating on Obama, wishing he would fail, sitting out the vote, etc. That's hogwash. We refuse to 'clap louder' just because Democrats are in office.

No, Obama told us all from day one "make me do it." So we complain and make noise when he isn't doing it. We're doing what we can. But don't throw us all into some non-Obama-100%-love-equals-we-want-him-to-lose club. That's just nonsense.

Posted by: terraformer on August 10, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

When the GOP-controlled House is issuing subpoenas for President Obama's underwear next spring to test for semen stains, Gibbs may want to re-visit the term, "inartful"!

Posted by: Sam Simple on August 10, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

NeilB, your skin's so thin it's onion paper. It takes only the mildest criticism of you or the pseudo-left (Firebaggers et al.) to launch you into a foaming at the mouth tirade.

Every action by the Obama administration that doesn't measure up to your fantasyland standards is immediately dog-piled on in the harshest terms while completely ignoring the Republican filibuster machine and the Blug Dogs.

Not to mention the continual confusion between what is the responsibility of the Legislative branch and the Executive branch.

Prime example, DADT, Obama is Constitutionally required to enforce ALL laws that Congress passes. He CANNOT Constitutionally suspend enforcement of DADT, it REQUIRES Congress to repeal it. BTW, just to preemptively knock down the typical response, Truman's Executive Order 9981 that desegregated the Armed forces overturned military policy, NOT law. Executive Orders cannot establish law.

But somehow all these factors that work against getting the most progressive legislation out the door are completely ignored. All or nothing stances get you nothing. But I guess you'd be satisfied with nothing as long as Obama did the request posturing and mouthed the correct pious words. Failure is fine with you as long as it's claimed to be done with the purist of goals while actually accomplishing the most progressive legislation (flawed I agree) in a century (the ACA) is scurrilous behavior because it compromises with the Satanic corporations.

You and your ilk remind me of the vulgar Marxist students of my undergraduate years that I saw on campus. Purity, vitriol, and long angry diatribes were plentiful from them but actual accomplishments that did anything to alleviate the suffering they railed against or move "the System" any further to the Left was nonexistent.

And finally, can you in any way justify Jane Hamsher working with that scum Grover Norquist regardless of what the fuck it was about? The people you associate with reveal your own character and we got a very good look at the character and motivations of Jane Hamsher when she pulled this stunt as well as her appearances on Fox, which handed them a very useful propaganda coup.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on August 10, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

tiredofgreed: "Things are not better now?"

No, they're not better. We're still down over 8 million jobs from when Obama took office. And that number, as you admit, has leveled off. It's static.

At best, that's "not worse," but it's a long, long, long way from "better."


Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

To those tired of the Bush-Obama comparisons, please outline in what meaningful aspects Obama has distinguished himself from Bush regarding policy in the Middle East and national security surveillance. Please explain how Obama has reversed Bush policies that he once railed were unconstitutional regarding Guantanamo, wiretapping, or renditions. Please detail how Obama has not simply adopted and expanded the above mentioned odious Bush policies.

Obama's policies in this area are a disappointment, although in the case of a lot the surveillance stuff he's governed the way he campaigned. Remember the FISA vote in the summer of 2008? On Guantanamo, he's pretty clearly been prevented from pursuing his preferred policy by the Congress, and on Israel/Palestine by Israel's unwillingness to change their own policy and Congressional unwillingness to pressure them to do so. On the other hand, it appears that we really are no longer torturing, which ain't nothing to the people who almost certainly would have been tortured for the last 18 months under McCain/Palin.

Now, please outline why you think Bush would have been likely to push for the Lily Ledbetter act, the 2009 stimulus bill (such as it was), the Affordable Care act (again, such as it was), SCHIP or any of the other genuinely if not maximally progressive domestic achievements of the last 18 months. Because both side have to be true to make "just like Bush" a credible statement instead of a cheap smear.

Thanks much.

Posted by: drkrick on August 10, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

@square1

At the moment, I'm finding the kind of liberal Gibbs refers to as useless in any meaningful way. The glass is always half-empty, and the rage-filled articles that attract those he refers to are usually filled with the fury of white-hot misinformation. Why those who love to 24/7 bash this president and Democrats would have us believe that they were actually going to vote Democratic in the first place, is beyond me.


Posted by: June on August 10, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Dr. Morpheus

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

What Jamobey said.

As for CR, the tropes that Gibbs used -- the left is on drugs, the left wants to dismantle the Pentagon -- are the same hippy punching lines pushed by Republican propagandists for decades. Democrats should not perpetuate these lies.

If Gibbs didn't mean to criticize labor unions and community activists, then he should have been much more specific about who he criticized, and he should not have used the same rhetorical framing that Republicans have used to smear all Democrats since the 60s.

Posted by: el_gallo on August 10, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

tiredofgreed: "Things are not better now?"

No, they're not better. We're still down over 8 million jobs from when Obama took office. And that number, as you admit, has leveled off. It's static.

At best, that's "not worse," but it's a long, long, long way from "better."

You make no sense NeilB. How can an economy with moderate growth not be better than a country on the brink of economic failure. A pretty significant accomplishment in only 16 months.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

THIS stirring up controversy. Let ME say that there is a HUGE difference from holding the President accountable and WHINING. MANY Democrats thought all they had to do was elect Obama and then sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? GET OUT THERE...be CONSTRUCTIVE. Don't tell me that bitchin' is CONSTRUCTIVE. You don't get everything you WANT? There is 300 million people in this country. That's a LOT of sharing. All this handwringing has led right into the GOPs hands. We have to be even MORE ADULT than normal when the GOP is being so incredibly childish. By acting like whiners the other side and the lovely 'independents' are saying 'oh well HELL there is no difference lets go BACK to the way it was.' I'm GLAD people have such short term memories but the country almost DIED because of them. We need to STAND UP, VOTE, be POSITIVE, get OUR MESSAGE out and quit CRITISIZING ALL THE F'ing TIME!

Posted by: SYSPROG on August 10, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Just wondering... might the "inartful" words serve to point out to the press etc. that there are plenty of people who live to the left of Obama? He's never been the "socialist" or even "very liberal" that Fox and friends have portrayed (or that some respondents above apparently expected).

Posted by: R on August 10, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. Morpheus:

What have you ever done to "move 'The System' to the left?" Guessing from you little whinny above, let me guess....nothing? I'm pretty sure we're not on the same page at all. Otherwise why resort to ad hominem attacks on me?

(assuming you mean me and not NeilB in your post above, haven't seen any NeilB's here today)

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

terraformer: As I wrote the other day, those of us who point out the shortcomings of the Obama administration should not necessarily be cast as hating on Obama, wishing he would fail, sitting out the vote, etc.

Providing accountability and constructive criticism is totally different that--

"OBAMA'S GOT NO FUCKING BALLS!"

or "I AIN'T VOTING FOR DIMOCRATS!"

or "RAHM CAN SUCK MY DICK!"

and you know as well as I that there's been a hell of a lot of that going around.

Apparently the fringe left can push all the shit they want, but can't take a little bit of pushback.

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Gibbs knew exactly what he was saying. Obama and Emanuel undoubtedly agree with the gist of his remarks, inartful or not. It was a calculated political broadside designed to insult voters they are convinced have "no where else to go", in order to recruit voters they perceive as sitting on the fence.

Posted by: JWL on August 10, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

June: You didn't answer my question. If you think that Obama's liberal critics are irrelevant and can be ignored without political repercussion, will you take responsibility if you are proven wrong and Democrats lose Congress and/or the White House as a result of ignoring liberals? Or will you be blaming those who you now say will never vote for Democrats...for not voting for Democrats?

Posted by: square1 on August 10, 2010 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

"How can an economy with moderate growth not be better than a country on the brink of economic failure." - tiredofgreed

We're on the brink of deflation. Growth is anemic. And in real terms, jobs are still being lost, not recovered. Look, I get it. You're fine with the fact that 30 million American families remain devastated by the economic downturn and have little hope of getting any benefit from the "moderate growth" you cite anytime soon.

I'm not.

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Um, if your involvement in politics consists of complaining on blogs -- which is pretty much where I am -- you're probably not part of the "professional left," insofar as you are not professional. The "professional left" is presumably media pundits and the very few people who make money on blogs, like Huffington and, to a lesser degree, Hamsher and Moulitsas.

If Robert Gibbs takes a potshot at the "professional left," it shouldn't have a lot of bearing on us amateurs, just like taking potshots at "Hollywood" shouldn't have a lot of bearing on people who upload cat videos to YouTube.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on August 10, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

nealb: Look, I get it. You're fine with the fact that 30 million American families remain devastated by the economic downturn

This is exactly the kind of bullshit we're talking about.

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

@square1

If it can be shown that liberals who take great delight in excoriating The Democratic Party and the President indeed make up enough of his base to swing the election one way or the other, then yes, I'll take the responsibility for having enough personal power to have swayed them to sit out the election.

Now, what will you take responsibility for? Sitting out the election because your feelings were hurt?

Posted by: June on August 10, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. Morpheus: I can justify Jane Hamsher joining with Grover Norquist on the limited issue of calling for an independent investigation of Fannie Mae corruption a hell of a lot better than you can justify Obama joining with Pete Peterson to drown Social Security. But good luck trying.

Posted by: square1 on August 10, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jane: Oh yes, we take "great delight" in excoriating the Democratic Party. Nothing makes me happier than complaining about the failure of my political party to achieve significant policy goals. You are so right. I don't know what I would do with myself if Democrats ever delivered on their promises. Good thing that will never happen.

During the Bush years, Republicans really nailed it when they accused Democrats of "blaming America first," "hating the troops," "siding with the enemy" and such other well-reasoned attacks. Thank you for picking up where the GOP left off.

It wouldn't feel right if people disagreed with me without also accusing me of reflexively trying to destroy the country.

Posted by: square1 on August 10, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Honest to God...go ahead and sit out this election NealB and square1 because you 'think' Obama is as bad as the GOP. I say, back away from your keyboard and go to the library. Read up on RECENT history. THEN decide he's just as bad. No credit for ANYTHING he's done in 2 years. And when a LOT more people are devastated you can sit there and criticize the GOP. What the HELL are you doing to make this country better?

Posted by: SYSPROG on August 10, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

It's a 24-7 outrage machine on some of the left blogs, especially DKos. Every little hint of the WH possibly taking a different route than that of the "base" makes a few diarists and bloggers lose their collective shit. Take Elizabeth Warren, for example. Remember all of the breathless and outraged posts about how Geithner hates her and the Obama administration was going to snub her ? Guess what ? BS. But, no need to say we're wrong or sorry, just move on to the next manufactured outrage.

These folks know damn well who Gibbs is referring to, and they better understand something real quick: the fake outrage only works for so long, and then people realize that you're full of shit and stop listening to you. I've already done so, after being a loyal reader of several of these blogs for years. And judging by the comments here and elsewhere, I'm not alone.

The main problem is that these bloggers think that their ideas are the only true ideas, reality be damned. They're completely delusional about who the base of the Democratic party actually is (hint: it's not them), and they have a lot in common with the teabaggers on the right. Ideology trumps pragmatic progress, burn the motherfucker down and start over...

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on August 10, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm clapping louder, SYSPROG. Isn't that what you centrists want me to do? Legal assassination and expanded war? Yay! Kissing up to conservatives and punching liberals? Yay! 10% unemployment and cuts to food stamps? Yay!

Quick quiz: name one single concession the Obama Administration has made to liberals.

Posted by: Tom Allen on August 10, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

NeilB

So now you have not only agreed that we are not worse off than we were 16 months ago but you agree that the economy is growing at this time. I think that is called steps to a recovery and relief for those not working. If I am not mistaken the Dems are trying to help some of those people right now and look to do more in the future. But people like you want every problem solved all at the same time and if that impossible task isn't taken care of you will cry like a little child. The jig is up on the whiners and you are the king.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

OhNoNotAgain

Very well said. Wish I could organize my thoughts like that. For every issue there is a blogger collecting all of the problems and criticisms, ignoring anything positive and dropping the pile on Obama's lap with all to be addressed and resolved last week. Obama is doing a great job.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

"This is exactly the kind of bullshit we're talking about." - cr

You're not fine with the fact that there are 30 million American families devastated by the economy with little hope in sight for recovery? You've been so busy fluffing Obama and criticizing your fellow Democrats, it's hard to tell.

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

@OhNoNotAgain: the fake outrage only works for so long, and then people realize that you're full of shit and stop listening to you.

It hasn't happened that way yet for Fox News or the teabag/movement conservative crowd, and that's who the "professional left" envies most: why does right-wing incoherent rage shift political opinion, while left-wing _coherent_ rage gets bupkes? It's true; it's not fair; and IMHO it has something to do with the sting the major media still feels about being regarded as "liberal" and desperate to demonstrate otherwise.

@ Tom Allen: The "concession" to liberals is getting something passed at all in a climate where Blue Dogs and conservative Democrats would have gladly punted on every major policy. They want practically nothing to happen, and instead many things have happened. Sad to say, that in itself is proof that the final policies are well to the left of what huge swaths of _Democrats_ in Congress would have wanted. They haven't been as liberal as the liberals wanted; but they exist, which is more than what the conservatives wanted.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on August 10, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

"....go ahead and sit out this election NealB...." - SYSPROG

You're (pardon the expression) talking out of your ass, SYSPROG. I've said the exact opposite here today, and on previous occasions, I will be voting here in Wisconsin this November 2 for Feingold, Barrett, and whoever the hapless Democrat against Sensebrenner happens to be. I've never said I won't vote Democratic this year, or any year. Well, OK, I threatened to vote against Carter back in 1980, but in the end I did vote for Carter, too.

So don't go making junk up about my voting plans and posting it here, please. Thanks.

Posted by: NealB on August 10, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

I can only speak for myself. Certainly I think that what Obama and the Democrats have been able to do in the face of unbelievable GOP obstruction and corporate media not covering that dynamic is amazing.

But the overarching theme, if you will, of my dissatisfaction is not about what Obama has not been able to do - it is disingenuous to say that many of us are bitching just because we aren't getting every possible thing that we want immediately - it is instead about the perception (again, I can only speak for myself) that Obama and the Democrats are not even trying to fight. They either preemptively give up, move to the center on a given issue, or capitulate entirely on issues that are important to all Lefties.

I would dare say that I wouldn't have a damn thing at all to complain about if Obama and the Democrats would only put up a fight. Use the airwaves, the bully pulpit, use Obama's magnificent oratorical skills to educate the populace. To fight and lose is honorable. To not fight at all is what gets under my skin.

Posted by: terraformer on August 10, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

terraformer

That is the perception that republicans, and for some reason, many "liberal" bloggers want you to have. It was a huge battle to pass health insurance reform. Bank reform is better than most expected after a long fight. The stimulus in my opnion was the right amount at the time with future stimulus enacted as necessary like the aid passed today to protect 900,000 jobs. I am very happy with the effort put out by the dems and becoming more pleased all the time.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

To fight and lose may be honorable, but in Washington losing leads to more losing. Every issue comes down to corralling all Senate Democrats, even the conservative ones, and then picking off one of like 6 remotely constructive Republicans. In that climate, you can't make big sudden movements. It'd be like having a reliable kicker, the ball at the 15, down by 2, 45 seconds on the clock, and deciding to throw to "make a statement," instead of taking a knee a few times and then booting the almost-sure win. They're content to win by 1, so they play it safe a lot, I agree.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on August 10, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

SYSPROG: I am not disappointed by Obama or Third-Way Democrats. I accept that they have a different ideology than I do. I accept that they have different goals than I do. That's fine.

Are Third-Way Democrats better than Republicans? Sure. Most of the time, on most issues. And I have no problem pulling the lever for a centrist Democrat if I think it is the best available option. But what I refuse to do is engage in the bullshit fiction that we are working towards mutual goals or share a common political ideology. We aren't and we don't.

In most Western Democracies, Third-Way Democrats and Liberal Democrats would be members of separate parties. They might come together to form a coalition government. Or they might unite where they would find common ground on issues. But what you wouldn't see is the members of one party (Third-Way Democrats) demanding that the other party (Liberal Democrats) unilaterally compromise their entire platform. That would be insane. And yet, that is exactly what we have here in the U.S.

The fact is that Obama is not a Liberal Democrat. Fine. That isn't an insult. It is just a fact. A Liberal Democrat wouldn't dismiss single-payer out of hand. A Liberal Democrat wouldn't choose Summers, Geithner, and Bernanke as his core economic team. A Liberal Democrat would never attack Social Security. A Liberal Democrat would not choose to bail out the largest commercial banks rather than break them up. A Liberal Democrat wouldn't be afraid to regulate corporations. A Liberal Democrat wouldn't say that "government can't create jobs."

Again, I say this not to insult Obama, but to put to rest the fiction that he really, really wants to work towards liberal goals and that if we just shut up and be patient he will get there eventually. We won't. Obama doesn't want to go there and wouldn't go if he could.

My suggestion to Third-Way Democrats is simple: Stop crying when people who are de facto members of a different political party do not agree with you. You can either choose to be nice, find common ground, and compromise on a shared political agenda or you can ignore them and accept that they will disagree with you.

But stop acting like you are entitled to their votes when you refuse to compromise at all.

Posted by: square1 on August 10, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Snifff. Flop sweat. Smells like Bush's pits. Boy am I going to enjoy seeing that phony bullshit reformer getting crushed by some Christcrazy loon.

Posted by: the norns on August 10, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

WH press secretary's focus should be on President Obama's accomplishments

I understand Mr. Gibbs's frustration. Look at all the GOP goals Obama has accomplished. Doubling down in Afghanistan, forcing people to buy health insurance from private companies, not getting us out of Iraq, greenlighting BP's dumping of chemicals in the Gulf. And let's not forget the guns in the national parks! How come nobody's throwing flowers at him?

Posted by: kc on August 10, 2010 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

i thought this was an interesting article in response to this brouhaha
http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2010083210/gibbs-left-dog-bites-man

Posted by: fuiousd on August 10, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

He reminds me of my Southern relatives in that there is a real strong sense of place ie. "don't step out of yours". We have all been stepping out of our places ever since they came into power by not being cowed and submitting to the bullying like the Repubs did under Bush. Must have been a great shock to them all.

Posted by: dianne on August 10, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

fuiousd

The article proves Gibb's point. Borosage believes he is the gatekeeper to "reality". Many journalists and bloggers on the left think they are omnipotent. All they are are blowhards fighting for attention.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on August 10, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"When the criticism is "Obama is no different than George Bush," there is no merit to argue." - Jon

When such a criticism is in reference to an issue where there truly is little or no difference from Bush (and in some cases, worse), there IS merit to the argument.

Greenwald and others of the "professional left" have never claimed that Obama is like Bush in every possible way. Only with respect to the particular issues where in fact there has been no meaningful change from the Bush policies.

I would agree with you that the Obama administration is not EXACTLY like the Bush administration in all areas, but there are a lot of similarities in important areas (warrantless surveillance, civil liberties, GWOT) which should greatly concern his supporters.

No good is achieved by trying to pretend these issues don't exist.

If Obama makes it to the national election, I'll vote for him. But in the primary, I'm definitely to support a challenger who more closely reflects my values.

Posted by: bdop4 on August 10, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Snifff. Flop sweat. Smells like Bush's pits. Boy am I going to enjoy seeing that phony bullshit reformer getting crushed by some Christcrazy loon."

Seriously, do you folks that have actual valid criticisms of the President really want to ally yourselves with this kind of asshole ? Because that's what this conversation is about - a childish, anarchistic approach to politics, or a sane, adult approach to politics.

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on August 10, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm through with this kiss-ass blog.

Posted by: Dale on August 10, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

bdop: If Obama makes it to the national election, I'll vote for him. But in the primary, I'm definitely to support a challenger who more closely reflects my values.

Another great example of the political ignorance of the fringe left.

Who you gonna put up? Huge Loser Nader or Huge Loser Kucinich? You guys are a fucking joke.

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

"The Left" is the big black box of evil that just about anyone and everyone can blame. lol Most popular punching bag for decades.

Gibbs was being sloppy and lazy. He could have done his research and found the groups that he disagreed with instead he did the lazy routine and went with the tiresome and banal "It's the icky left" approach. He's no different than the majority of Americans in that regard.

Posted by: Silver Owl on August 10, 2010 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was a strawman. How could a moron like that win? Only when you split the opposite party.

Posted by: bellesouth on August 10, 2010 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Why put up anybody? Accelerated churn among rent-seeking functionaries is an accurate gauge of the progress of state failure. You saw it before the CCCP contracted and pulled in its horns. One term for a meritocratic gelding like Obama, then one term for a clownish fanatic, rinse, repeat, and soon enough there's a prospect of meaningful reform. Walesa saw that in Gdansk despite all the pathetic naifs telling him to work within their crooked autocratic party. So fuck your crooked autocratic party.

Posted by: the norns on August 10, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

How successful has Obama really been with truly important legislation? How much of their "success" is just window dressing? What we have is a self-satisfied administration focusing on the good-enough; pushing only hard enough to leave an impression of success.

Posted by: Sparko on August 10, 2010 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Greg Sargent:

The Dem firm Public Policy Polling offers a reality check on what liberals think of Obama. They overwhelmingly approve:

On the national poll we'll release this week 85% of liberals approve of the job Obama is doing to 12% disapproving. 88% support his health care plan looking back with only 7% opposed.

Not only are those numbers good, but they're steady. Obama's favor with liberals hasn't been on the decline. In May his approval with liberals was 87/10. In February it was 81/15. In November it was 87/4. Even as his ratings have declined overall he's stayed in that sort of mid-80s range with liberal voters.

The volume of the voices of liberals who don't like Obama is much greater than the volume of their numbers.

Posted by: cr on August 10, 2010 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

81%! Yes keep up that slavish loyalty: especially if you've been laid for going on 99 weeks, or if you live in the Gulf and your new baby daughter has two heads because the Feds ceded police powers to BP.

Posted by: the norns on August 10, 2010 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

tiredofgreed:
I'm not sure how it proves Gibbs point, at all. I think he makes the important point that with a stronger fight from the White House on a number of recent issues you would see the progressive community have the President's back. Some times it is hard to tell if the President really wants the progressive community's support. I also think you overstate the case for omnipotence from left bloggers. I don't see it. Where are you coming from?

Posted by: furiousd on August 10, 2010 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

They forgot something in that poll: how likely are you to vote in the coming election? The enthusiasm gap is what's going to kill the Dems, and Gibbs has just exacerbated that. Hell, look at this thread.

Posted by: calling all toasters on August 10, 2010 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Obama surfed popular revulsion into office. A halloween pumpkin could have beat Bush at that point. As state failure intensifies and Obama wrings his hands and blames his critics, by 2012 Sharron Angle could unseat Obama no problem. So your fate depends solely on whether the GOP installs a sniveling corporate puppet like Obama or a dominionist psychopath. I'm betting on another sniveling corporate puppet.

Posted by: the norns on August 10, 2010 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck him - this is just another example of this administrations kicking the asses of its friends while kissing the asses of those who want to destroy it.

It does not matter who this dipshit motherfucker THINKS he was taking a shot at. He, once again, took a shot at our friends - he never takes shots like this at our enemies.

Shut the fuck up about the left & start making the case against the right asshole.

Posted by: frankie on August 10, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Walesa saw that in Gdansk despite all the pathetic naifs telling him to work within their crooked autocratic party. -- the norns, @18:29

Anyone who can say "Walesa saw" with a straight face is worse than a "naif". Walesa is, was and has always been a male version of Palin -- loads of charisma and nothing much in his cock-loft. Even though, by 1980, I was living here, I still went back often enough to stay in touch with his "handlers", who were in Warsaw. And it was just as it must have been with Palin and is now with Angle: "can we let him loose? Can we trust him not to ad lib?"

Yes keep up that slavish loyalty: especially if you've been laid for going on 99 weeks[...] -- the norns, @19:04

You sound like you *haven't* been laid for 99 weeks (or longer); all that unspent testosterone is boiling in your head.

Posted by: exlibra on August 10, 2010 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of the Obama apologists use the excuse of the Republican obstructionism.

Well, if Obama was forced by the big bad Republicans to preemptively surrender the progressive positions on a number of bills then why tout those as his accomplishments?

Why did he not rail against the Republicans who were forcing him to not let anyone be held accountable for torture in our name?

Why did he not rail against the Republicans who were forcing him to announce the withdrawal from Iraq which actually meant that our troops stay?

Why did he not rail against the Republicans who were forcing him to double down on the failed strategy in Afghanistan?


Why did he not rail against the Republicans who were forcing him to not spend the required amount on the stimulus?

Poor Obama. He is so helpless and his supporters are so ungrateful. Can't even get a brownie point for not keeping his promises and surrendering to the Republicans on major issues even before any negotiations.


Posted by: gregor on August 10, 2010 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

This comment thread is seriously infested with purity trolls. So many people claiming all criticism of Obama is illegitimate, that Obama critics don't matter anyway, and so on and so on.

The lot of you are only proving Mr. Benen's point. Brainless, holier-than-thou arrogance like yours really will only hurt the party's chances on November. You can sneer all you want about people who won't vote because "their feelings were hurt", but that only highlights your hubris all the brighter.

Every vote you drive away is, obviously, one less you'll have when the time comes. That's the way to *lose* elections, not to win them. That you're doing this and acting proud of it shows how mindless and immature the lot of you purity trolls are.

Posted by: Shade Tail on August 10, 2010 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, this thread really hit a nerve on both sides (me too). I've been catching up after being afk for several hours and have two points to make.

First, on the economy. Yes, things are still bad and yes, they would be better if the stimulus bill had been bigger. But if the policy proposals the Republicans made back then had been followed, we would now be another 3-5 million jobs in the hole. If the policy positions the current batch of Republican candidates support now and claim to have supported then had been followed we would be 5 million to who knows how many (Great Depression II time) further in the hole now.

Maybe if Obama had started out pushing for the 2-3 trillion dollar stimulus Krugman wanted, we would have ended up with something that had us actually growing now. Or maybe the Republicans and Blue Dogs would have retreated to total opposition of anything and we would have ended up with nothing at all. We don't know and to not give Obama, Pelosi and Reid credit for what they did accomplish is at least as foolish as not admitting they should have at least tried to do more.

On the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Claims that Obama is just following Bush's policies really infuriate me. In Iraq, Bush's policy was to categorically reject any withdrawal timeline. He didn't sign off on the current policy until the Iraqi government insisted on it during the negotiations to renew the Status of Forces Agreement. The Iraqi government was emboldened to insist on a (somewhat) firm withdrawal timeline in large part because the leading candidate to replace Bush (Obama) had been saying for months that he would commit to such a timeline. In other words, Obama is following a Bush policy that Bush was forced into, in part, by Obama's leadeership on this issue. For the left wing of the Democrat's to buy into the nothing new here arguement, puts them squarely in alliance with the right wing on this issue.

On Afghanistan, Bush spent 7 years ignoring this conflict. It can be argued that after all that time, things had degenerated into a no-win situation that Obama should have given up on immediately. Politically, if he had tried that, the Republicans would probably be looking at almost certain majorities in both houses of Congress right now. The correct course of action from here on out can and SHOULD be argued but at least Obama is trying to achieve some kind of resolution to the situation and once again, reflexively dismissing his policies as just more of the same is NOT helpful.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 10, 2010 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

@ gregor:

A lot of the Obama apologists use the excuse of the Republican obstructionism.

He's being obstructed by conservative Democrats too -- or at least they demand their pound of flesh on every bill. It's a bit harder to shame and rail against them when they have to turn right back around and work with them on the next round of policies. Prog-blog people always talk about caving to Republicans. They don't do that. They cave to conservative Democrats. In a system with the casual filibuster, they have to do that. It would be nice not to have to worry about the filibuster anymore. Can they get rid of it? Maybe. Will they? No. Why? Conservative Democrats. There aren't 50 liberals in the Senate.

The problem is conservative Democrats, who are barely even Democrats in the first place. If you're not happy with the policies coming out of this administration, find a way to pressure conservative Democrats in the Senate.

Unless the thing you're not happy about is located in the executive branch, in which case, flame on.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on August 11, 2010 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

Can't let this subversive analogy go:

"It'd be like having a reliable kicker, the ball at the 15, down by 2, 45 seconds on the clock, and deciding to throw to "make a statement," instead of taking a knee a few times and then booting the almost-sure win." - FlipYrWhig

Dear FlipYrWhig: What was the goal? You don't say.

Obama got his crappy field goals over the last year and a half, but inferring he won the game 'cause he got a couple of field goals is just stupid. Totally stupid; and beneath you if I may apologize.

You don't sound like a stupid person.

Posted by: NealB on August 11, 2010 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

I think it is a good thing to get it out in the open. These idiots like Hamsher, Greenwald and even to some extent Olbermann needed to be exposed for the undermining they have been doing. It's better to get it out in the open than to let them continue to chip away at him with their snarkiness and lack of credit for anything the president has done. Shine the light on them and make them tell us what progressive policies they really support and not just what they disagree with.

Posted by: Extreme Liberal on August 11, 2010 at 7:34 AM | PERMALINK

No rational person would argue with the statement that Obama is to the right of center. He didn't even try to put reasonable restrictions on the use of TARP money or the even vastly greater amount of money the banks were getting from the FED and the Treasury. He didn't even try to force the banks to use the money he gave them for mortgage relief to actually relieve people in foreclosure. He hasn't shown any intention of requiring churches that get federal money to follow the law concerning discrimination in hiring with that money. He has done nothing to change Bush policy regarding unConstitutional surveillance of people, especially people who have shown absolutely no intention of committing crimes. He is continuing Bush policy regarding treatment of possible terrorists. He has, in other words, not changed any of the basic antiAmerican values that Bush put in. He never pushed for a health measure that benefited the average person rather than the insurance companies just the same as Bush did with his Part D. There has been no backing of Dr. Warren rather than a Wall St. nominee for overseer of the agency to protect common people from the banksters. I can't think of a single time that he has actually stood for principle and fought for what was right rather than compromise away anything that might have been a benefit. If the left doesn't push him to look out for the powerless, who will?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on August 11, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly