In an interview
with The Hill, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs aired
some surprising remarks about far-left commentators. "I hear these
people saying [President Obama is] like George Bush. Those people ought
to be drug tested," Gibbs said, dismissing liberal White House critics.
"They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've
eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality." Though Gibbs has since apologized, his words reverberated
in the left-wing blogosphere, sparking discussion about liberal
frustration during the Obama presidency. Many challenged Gibbs's assertion
that liberals—as a whole—are even frustrated with Obama. Others explained the White House's perspective:
- What Is Gibbs Thinking? asks liberal Ezra Klein
at The Washington Post: "What I don't understand is why Robert Gibbs
would voice that frustration to the press. His comments just turn this
into a 'story,' giving the very professional lefties whose criticism is
rankling the White House another high-profile opportunity to criticize
the White House. Baffling."
- Why Is the 'Professional Left' So Mad? The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder explains:
voters are frustrated because, for all of the President's legislative
successes, there haven't been moments of clear triumph or moments of
emotional catharsis -- or, when there have been such moments, like when
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before Congress in
favor of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, they evaporate quickly.
it seems at times as if all the promise of the Obama presidency has
been stuck in the tar-pit of Washington. The sputtering economy looms
over the entire political landscape. What rankles White House advisers
is that Obama's critics question their motivation as much as their
judgment. Motivation speculation becomes fact; predictions of doom
become common wisdom. And the traditional media, eager to be current,
magnifies the meta-commentary of professional liberals. And that becomes
- His Remarks Were Uncalled For, adds Matthew Yglesias
at Think Progress: "I have some sympathy with the substance of what
Gibbs has to say here. But you don’t improve your relationship with
same-team ideological activists by attacking them in red-baiting terms."
- Understand the Viewpoint of the White House, writes Ben Smith
at Politico: "Gibbs' dig is a reminder that at the heart of this White
House is a belief that Obama is president despite the Democratic Party,
not because of it."
- Liberal Frustration Makes Sense, writes Nate Silver
at Five Thirty Eight: "The euphoric feeling among liberals in the days
between the election and the inauguration seems so quaint now -- like
something that happened decades ago -- but it was very tangible at the
time. Conservatives, for their part, were willing to give Obama the
benefit of the doubt, with his approval and favorability ratings
sometimes soaring into the 70s... But Obama was never really able to
capitalize on that momentum."
- Actually, the Left Isn't Mad, writes David Weigel
at Slate: "Who are the liberal commentators or activists who refuse to
give the White House credit for its big progressive bills? Jane Hamsher,
David Sirota, Ed Schultz, maybe the editors of The Progressive. Among all liberals,
the White House has soaring, 85 percent, Chavez-when-oil-is-expensive
popularity. So the fight being picked is with a noisy crowd that doesn't
speak for the base. Seriously, now -- even MoveOn is going easy on the
White House, edging away from anti-war activism and toward
anti-corporate activism. That's quite a solid it's doing for Obama, whom
its members endorsed in 2008 in large part over the war issue."
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