Gibbs doesn't get it. Bashes the "professional" left

In this The Hill interview, Gibbs bashes the professional left and expresses bafflement why they would be mad about Obama's performance and then Gibbs does the Blue Dog/right wing trick of attributing it to "ideological purity".

Well, Gibbs,  I am an example of a "moderate" who voted for Obama and is disenchanted. I am pro-voucher, pro-Death penalty, am neutral on gay marriage(though I am for civil unions and for open gays in military), neutral on taxes(I am not necessrily in favor of more taxes, though if the government shows accountability, I am not againt it). I am not even that set on universal health care though there should have been some sort of public option.  The whole torture thing wasn't even on my top list of issues though I did want to see it addressed.  it's obvious I am not a classic lefty. So I gotta say this. After 8 years of Bush, I EXPECT more liberal policies to be implemented now ,not because I am very liberal, but for a need to balance out the neglect for liberal policies in the last 8 years.

Here is an excerpt:

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.

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.”

What a lie. I remember bashing Obama early on for letting Geithner continue with some of the financial bailout nonsense Paulson approved of, and I remember many liberals responding at the time that Obama should get the benefit of doubt . Liberals weren't the one who set up tea party conventions despite similar anger towards the bailouts at the time. Kucinich opposed the bailout and played the good soldier.

I don't hear many liberals or pundits asking for the pentagon to be abolished. Shame on this weasel for putting words in the mouths of people he dislikes. Asking for a slowdown inthe military industrial complex is not the same as saying "get rid of the pentagon". That's like saying Eisenhower hated the military.

People like Gibbs and Axelrod forget that they didn't do anything miraculous on their own to get Obama elected.

There are so many stupid things about Gibbs approach:

1) Everyone knows Obama needs a passionate support base to counter the passionate crazy opposition he is generating from the birthers and racists. For him to continue to piss off the liberal groups is incredibly dumb. it is not winning him any points with the "independents". There are many myths surrounding Obama propagated by the right wing.  Moderates are of different types. There are some like me who have a mishmash of opinions but we are highly passionate about each of them and we tend to align with the liberals because liberal policies have been ignored for years and so that part of our ideology has been underserved. Then there are most of the rest who are just moderate because they like to split the difference. These people Obama is obviously trying to cater to won't lift a finger to counter these birthers and tea partiers. For him to alienate the only group that will take the extra effort to help him fight these myths is incredibly stupid.

 2) Gibbs is conflating criticism of Obama's approach with the rationale that the only reason why he is being criticized is because he had to deal with reality. NO. The reason he is being criticized is he is part of making that reality. A leader is supposed to sell good ideas to the public -whether they are liberal or conservative. Obama hasn't even tried that. He caves in too fast and doesn't even try to sell the so called liberal positions before caving in to "reality". . Liberals dont mind him caving in at some point. Gibbs misses the point that Obama is just caving in too fast. Imagine if Lyndon Johnson just caved into reality and didn't want to sell the politicians on civil rights.

3) Gibbs fails to mention that criticism of Geithner , Afghanistan, MMS, and other issues have as much to do with COMPETENCE as ideology. When we support Warren, it is not merely because she is liberal, but she will be a great watchdog. I went to FreeRepublic, a looney right wing site to see the responses on Elizabeth Warren. Predictably, some bashed her. But you know what. She also got grudging respect from quite a few of the readers. That is unheard of on that site. Yet all the messaging we get from the White House has been very political on Warren. Words say they support her, but the actions have  been lukewarm. When I bash Salazar, it is not because he is a Blue Dog, it is because he has shown incompetence in his job.

When Gibbs sees Presidential approval at an all time low in the Obama term, does he really think liberal pundits are the only ones who are being "ideologically pure" and don't recognize Obama's accomplishments? There is a lot more healthcare reform bashing from the independents than from the liberals. Holder hasn't been getting much grief from liberals, but from the rest of the populace. There is more financial reform bashing form the independents  than from the liberals. I do not know what world this idiot Gibbs lives in.

While foreign leaders like Obama more than Bush, does Gibbs realize that Obama hasn't been generating much high level respect from them? The respect extended has been merely of the courteous "hey obama is a nice guy" nature, but not "wow, Obama is a great American leader. let's listen to what he says".  type.

Gibbs, you got a lot of work to do. Your smug putdowns of the left will not help you in this. What brought the Republicans down wasn't pure ideology pandering, it was lack of competence and their costly mistake on the war that neglected the economy.


Tags: Obama Administration, 2010 US Mid-Term Elections, GOP, Press Secretary Robert Gibbss (all tags)



good post

I'm not necessarily a "moderate" democrat like you. I'm more of a die-hard who sepnt a bunch of time living in a hotel room in the fall of 2008 to help with the Obama Campaign.

I'm sick of this BS from the White House.


It's not our fault that Obama has decided to be just as bad or even worse than Bush on presidential powers, the war on terror, and some civil rights issues.

It's not our fault that Obama cuts deals with companies that have systematically abused us, to the extend of even forcing us to be their customers.

It's not our fault the White House continually pokes Labor in the eyes and has illogical and self-conflicting stances on gay rights.

It's not our fault that Obama stacked his administration with Goldman Sachs flackies. It's not our fault Summers never gave to Obama Romer's suggestion that the Stimulus needed to be a lot bigger.

It's not our fault that Obama steals and legitimizes a bunch of right-wing talking points.

It's not our fault that Obama and the Democrats don't use all available procedural moves to get stuff done (reconciliation, anyone?)

It's not our fault that Rahm emanual runs to Lieberman to tell him he can have all his demands within an hour of those demands, but twists Progressive arms.

It's not our fault that we are now wowed by Obama signing a HCR bill into law that basically ripped off a 90's Bob Dole and Herritage Foundation compromise.

It's not our fault that Obama lies to us about Afganistan and sends our children off to die for nothing.

It's not our fault that Obama won't use recess appointments when he needs to.

It's not our fault that Obama won't fully try to spotlight the GOP fillibusters of his appointments, or have a major showdown over help for the unemployed.

I'm just sick of this, and I went from putting in a lot of hours campaigning for the guy and being part of Obama's Voter Protection Program to probably not even voting for him next time around, and no amount of the Administration calling me names is going to help that.


by jeopardy 2010-08-10 06:50PM | 0 recs
What did you expect?

Gibbs is a smarmy, thoroughly dislikable know-it-all, who just represents the inner circles of this administration (Rahm, Jarrett, Axelrod, Gibbs), so obviously they see themselves beyond reproach especially when the deals the cut are falling flat.

What's the scorecard:

1. Credit cards: The professional left wanted hard caps on credit cards because they will eventually raise their interest rates. The administration cut a deal. End result credit card companies can raise rates and fees despite the so called credit card bill of rights.

PL:1 Adm:0

2. Healthcare: PL wanted a public option with strongly worded legislation that prevented insurance companies from raising premiums. Instead we got a mandate and insurance companies are raising premiums and the plan is unpopular with both the left and the right

PL:2 Adm:0

3. Bank bailout: PL wanted no bailouts but a temporary receivership of big banks. Admin gave us a huge bailout, how big no one knows. The corruption is staggering and profits of Wall Street have soared but with no impact on employment and lending is anemic

PL:3 Adm:0

4. Stimulus plan: Professional left wanted a larger stimulus plan knowing the reality that there would be only one chance to go at it. Instead Admin gave an anemic stimulus with 25% tax cuts in them. We have a stagnant economy, unemployment hovering at 10%, the very real threat of a double dip recession despite Admin's happy talk

PL:4 Adm:0

And we can add the Afghan war, the aid to Pakistan, the increased surveillance, DADT, DOMA, etc etc etc, in short the list is too frigging long but the PL comes out as more prescient than the admin, whose only words for the coming elections are VOTE FOR US BECAUSE THEY ARE WORSE. In the end David Frum summarized it best:

More proof of my longtime thesis, Repub pols fear the GOP base; Dem pols hate the Dem base.

So let's see if the centrists and the conservatives come out and campaign for this admin in 2010 and 2012. Insulting the base won't suddenly energize them.

by tarheel74 2010-08-10 07:58PM | 1 recs
Krugman has a very nice take

A lot of commentary about the anti-left outburst by Robert Gibbs points out, correctly, that it was really dumb from a political perspective; criticism from the left is not a significant problem for Obama, while annoying the base is.

But I think people are missing an important point: what’s good for Obama is not necessarily good for his aides.

Think about it: Complaints that the administration should have pursued a bigger stimulus, or fought harder for the public option, or taken a different position on Afghanistan aren’t going to matter in the midterms. But they might hurt White House aides who argued against a bigger stimulus (to the point of not even passing the option on to the president), or argued against a harder push on health reform (perhaps even calling for retreat after Scott Brown), or have argued that continuation of Bush foreign policy is a political winner. The point is that the president might actually take those criticisms to heart, and rethink who he listens to.

It is obvious that a lot of the very serious people are scared at how badly they messed things up for political expediency. A bloodbath in November will only go to drive home that point.

by tarheel74 2010-08-10 08:04PM | 0 recs
Krugman is too nice

If Obama's "agents" are doing things that Obama doesn't want and that don't serve Obama or the Country, then they should be fired.They have not been (unless Brietbart wants them fired)

Yes, we can and should blame Obama for what his agents do and say.


How fast do you think Gibbs would have been fired if his comments were insults to "White Conservatives" instead of lefties?


by jeopardy 2010-08-10 08:17PM | 0 recs
RE: Gibbs doesn't get it. Bashes the "professional" left

You may think that the reason you're dissatisfied with the Obama administration is because of substantive objections to their policies:  

that they've done so little about crisis-level unemployment, foreclosures and widespread economic misery.  Or because of the White House's apparently endless devotion to Wall Street.  Or because the President has escalated a miserable, pointless and unwinnable war that is entering its ninth year.  Or because he has claimed the power to imprison people for life with no charges and to assassinate American citizens without due process, intensified the secrecy weapons and immunity instruments abused by his predecessor, and found all new ways of denying habeas corpus.  Or because he granted full-scale legal immunity to those who committed serious crimes in the last administration.  Or because he's failed to fulfill -- or affirmatively broken -- promises ranging from transparency to gay rights.

But Robert Gibbs -- in one of the most petulant, self-pitying outbursts seen from a top political official in recent memory, half derived from a paranoid Richard Nixon rant and the other half from a Sean Hannity/Sarah Palin caricature of The Far Left -- is here to tell you that the real reason you're dissatisfied with the President is because you're a fringe, ideological, Leftist extremist ingrate who needs drug counseling...


So, to recap:  (1) The Professional Left are totally irrelevant losers who speak for absolutely nobody, and certainly nobody in Real America who matters; but (2) they're ruining everything for the White House!!! 

And:  if you criticize the President, it's only because you're such a rabid extremist that you harbor a secret desire to eliminate the Pentagon -- that's how anti-American you are!  You're such a Far Left extremist that Dennis Kucinich isn't far enough Left for you, you subversive, drug-using hippies!  You're so far to the Left that you want to turn the U.S. into Canada

As David Frum put it today:  "More proof of my longtime thesis, Repub pols fear the GOP base; Dem pols hate the Dem base." 

The Democrats have been concerned about a lack of enthusiasm on the part of their base headed into the midterm elections.  These sorts of rabid, caricatured, Fox-News-copying attacks on the Left will undoubtedly help generate more enthusiasm -- more loud clapping -- for the Democrats.  

I know I'm eager to go canvass and clap for Democrats after reading Gibbs' noble, inspiring vision.  If it were Gibbs' goal to be as petulant and self-pitying as possible, what could he have done differently?

Perhaps one day the White House can work itself up to express this sort of sputtering rage against the Right, or the Wall Street thieves who destroyed the American economy, or the permanent factions that control Washington.  Until then, we'll have to satisfy ourselves with White House explanations that the Real Culprits are not (of course) them, but the Professional Left, that is simultaneously totally irrelevant and ruining everything.  I'll give credit to Gibbs for putting his name on this outburst:  these are usually the things they say anonymously and then deny afterward on the record that it's what they think.

by jeopardy 2010-08-10 09:21PM | 0 recs
This isn't a very substance filled comment but...

Gibbs is the Press-Secretary version of Joe Biden.  Sometimes you just have to keep your thoughts to yourself

by Chuckie Corra 2010-08-11 12:57PM | 0 recs
Gibbs is just a mouthpiece for Obama.

My impression is that Obama has spent too much time being counseled by Bill Clinton, or at the minimum, believes that Clinton has something to teach liberal Democrats.

Gibbs words show a total rejection of the very people who put Obama in office.

by MainStreet 2010-08-11 01:46PM | 0 recs
RE: Gibbs is just a mouthpiece for Obama.

of course, if Obama does anything wrong, it's because he was listening to Bill Clinton, or it's his advisors' fault for giving him bad suggestions, etc.

At some point, you have to blame the guy making the decisions.

by jeopardy 2010-08-11 08:07PM | 0 recs


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