Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I'm having trouble shaking the first reaction I had when I read this -- namely, that the Obama White House must have decided to stop trying to keep Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and is now pursuing a strategy of alienating as many key Democratic voter blocs as possible, so the losses (and the next two years) can be blamed on us:

... 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." ...

Hey, why not alienate liberals? Gays are angry at the continuing opposition to gay marriage and the lack of action on Don't Ask, Don't Tell; Latinos are waiting in vain for immigration reform; union workers are waiting in vain for card check; black support of the president took a serious hit post-Shirley Sherrod ... why not run the table? Then we'll all stay home, the GOP will take over Congress, Obama will be president in name only, but maybe Republicans will overreach themselves and Obama can run against them a la Truman '48 or Clinton '96. Beats working!

And now I see that Gibbs has gone to the Huffington Post and issued an apology -- if that's what you call this:

In a statement to the Huffington Post, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged that his recent broadside against the "professional left" was inartful, and called for renewed unity among the Democratic community....

"I watch too much cable, I admit," Gibbs told the Huffington Post. "Day after day it gets frustrating. Yesterday I watched as someone called legislation to prevent teacher layoffs a bailout -- but I know that's not a view held by many, nor were the views I was frustrated about." ...

In other words, "I shouldn't have said anything about our critics because they're too small and pathetic a group to matter and they're just as crazy as the teabaggers and wingnuts"? That's his apology?

I realize I'm ignoring the obvious explanation, which is that the White House is picking a fight with the left to win brownie points from the center. That could work if the Obamaites had had any success whatsoever in persuading even some of the center that theirs is a centrist administration, and if Fox News and the rest of the noise machine hadn't spent the last year and a half succeeding beyond their wildest dreams in pushing the "Obama's a socialist" meme. But it's too late for that -- there isn't enough time in this election cycle to reverse that impression, however preposterous it may be. But I'm guessing these guys think it could work, so they assume it might. It won't.


Third possibility: they actually feel they need to make a show of attacking the left before nominating Elizabeth Warren?

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