Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gibbs Railing Against "Professional Left"

Just another day:

The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity.

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.”
Why, yes, those filthy dirty hippies should be drug tested, am I right?

("Right" indeed:)

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.”

Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

The White House, constantly under fire from expected enemies on the right, has been frustrated by nightly attacks on cable news shows catering to the left, where Obama and top lieutenants like Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have been excoriated for abandoning the public option in healthcare reform; for not moving faster to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay; and for failing, so far, to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
A Democratic president and his mouthpiece taking shots at their own base in a fashion almost identical to the right. I can almost hear Gottfried's Iago the Parrot yelling "I may have a heart attack and die from the surprise!" as I read that.

In any case, all of those bits cited above are legitimate criticisms of the president's policies; far more than that "president Kucinich" stuff. I expect that that's part of the problem. It's easy to deflect the right's attacks, because they are utterly insane. They're based on ideas that are proven to be completely ludicrous, and aren't being presented in good faith in the first place. Liberals are far more dangerous. They have a point. Plus, I don't think Obama was really thinking about his own theoretical base when he was talking about "no red or blue America" and "teams of rivals" and all that. He, like so many Dems, assumed that the effective spectrum was between them and the right. That he might get criticism from non-conservatives may well have never occurred to him. Especially with all the Obamamania at the time.

So, who's Gibbs angry at?
While visibly frustrated, Gibbs did not specifically name any of the White Houses’s liberal detractors by name.
Oh. It figures that he'd never name any of them. That might get a bit inconvenient. The article mentions the Progressive Change Campaign's Adam Green, but he's just one of many. A lot of progressives are pissed these days.
Gibbs’s tough comments reflect frustration and some bafflement from the White House, which believes it has done a lot for the left.

In just over 18 months in office, Obama has passed healthcare reform, financial regulatory reform and fair-pay legislation for women, among other bills near and dear to liberals.

Obama is also overseeing the end of the Iraq war, with the U.S. on schedule to end its combat operations by the end of this month.

He’s also added diversity to the Supreme Court by nominating two female justices, including the court’s first Hispanic. Yet some liberal groups have criticized his nominees for not being liberal enough...

...The lack of appreciation or recognition for what Obama has accomplished has left Gibbs and others in furious disbelief.

Larry Berman, an expert on the presidency and a political science professor at the University of California-Davis, said he has been surprised that liberals aren’t more cognizant of the pragmatism Obama has had to employ to pass landmark reforms.

“The irony, of course, is that Gibbs’s frustration reflects the fact that the conservative opposition has been so effective at undermining the president’s popular approval,” Berman said.

“And from Gibbs’s perspective, and the White House perspective, they ought to be able to catch a break from people who, in their view, should be grateful and appreciative.”
See, this is what people like Gibbs (and Berman) just don't get. Progressives and liberals do understand that there needs to be a level of pragmatism. They do understand bargaining and negotiation. But as Green said in the article and as a lot of people have said elsewhere (including myself), this administration rolls over for Conservatives without bothering to negotiate. They aim too low to start with, and then trade off everything else worthwhile in exchange for practically nothing. They aren't willing to take a stand, aren't willing to pick issues to attack Republican intransigence on, and (as we see with this story) attack their own side at every opportunity.

The big problem is that progressives believe that the administration and this Congress (principally the Senate) is alternately weak and too willing to be bought-and-paid for by whichever corporation has the biggest pockets. They believe this because Obama and the Congressional Dems have given them every reason to believe it. Whining and moaning in the media won't change that, and won't make it go away. You have to prove to progressives that you have their best interests in mind. You have to show them that you ultimately respect their beliefs and will honor them as your core supporters.

But, instead, progressives get smeared with this nonsense.

Hell with 'em.

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