WASHINGTON -- The Obama campaign's point person in New Mexico recently sent an email to supporters defending the president's position on the debt deal and bashing the Nobel Prize winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and the "Firebagger Lefty blogosphere."
On the evening of Aug. 1, just after Congress passed legislation to raise the debt ceiling, Obama for America (OFA) New Mexico State Director Ray Sandoval sent an email to supporters with the subject line, "Please take 5 minutes to read this, Please."
"I know many of you have raised frustrations, but please, I implore you, please take 5 minutes and read the article below. It does a great job of explaining the Debt Ceiling deal," Sandoval wrote in bold text.
The rest of the email was a blog post taken from a blog called "The People's View," run by Spandan Chakrabarti. Chakrabarti writes that he has "been participating in online and offline liberal activism since 2003, when Gov. Howard Dean ran for president."
The blog post that Sandoval thought was important enough to share with others harshly condemns Krugman and progressive bloggers who have been critical of Obama. From the 1,825-word post:
Paul Krugman is a political rookie. At least he is when compared to President Obama. That's why he unleashed a screed as soon as word came about the debt ceiling compromise between President Obama and Congressional leaders - to, you know, avert an economic 9/11. Joining the ideologue spheres' pure, fanatic, indomitable hysteria, Krugman declares the deal a disaster - both political and economic - of course providing no evidence for the latter, which I find curious for this Nobel winning economist. He rides the coattails of the simplistic argument that spending cuts - any spending cuts - are bad for a fragile economy, ignoring wholeheartedly his own revious cheerleading for cutting, say, defense spending. But that was back in the day - all the way back in April of this year. [...]
No, the loudest screeching noise you hear coming from Krugman and the ideologue Left is, of course, Medicare. Oh, no, the President is agreeing to a Medicare trigger!!! Oh noes!!! Everybody freak out right now! But let's look at the deal again, shall we? [...]
Now let's get to the fun part: the triggers. The more than half-a-trillion in defense and security spending cut "trigger" for the Republicans will hardly earn a mention on the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere. Hell, it's a trigger supposedly for the Republicans, and of course, there's always It'sNotEnough-ism to cover it.
"Firebagger" is most likely a combined reference to the liberal blog FireDogLake, founded by Jane Hamsher, and "Tea Bagger," a less-than-flattering term for Tea Party activists.
When contacted by The Huffington Post, Sandoval simply replied, "I have sent your request up to my folks. I will let you know when I hear from them."
Sandoval did not reply to a follow-up message about who his "folks" were.
"The bipartisan debt agreement put in place a balanced framework for the next phase to ensure that special interests and the wealthiest are asked to bear some of the burden of deficit reduction, rather than saddling middle class families and seniors with costs and taking extreme measures like ending Medicare as we know it," replied Katie Hogan, deputy press secretary for the Obama campaign. "The views expressed in this email do not represent the views of the campaign."
The Obama administration has, at times, had a contentious relationship with both Krugman and the progressive blogosphere.
In 2007, Krugman was a vocal critic of Obama's proposed health care plan. The Obama campaign responded with an opposition-research style document accusing the columnist of flip-flopping.
In August 2010, then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the president's progressive critics, referring to them as "the professional left."
"I hear these people saying he's like George Bush," said Gibbs. "Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it's crazy."
Obama himself has personally tried to reassure left-leaning bloggers, at times even encouraging dissent. In a video message sent last year to attendees of the Netroots Nation conference -- an annual gathering of progressive bloggers and activists, Obama said, "What I’m asking you is to keep making your voices heard. To keep holding me accountable. To keep up the fight."
UPDATE: 3:24 p.m. -- Hamsher responds: "[I]f this is a brilliant political strategy on the part of OFA, someone is going to have to explain it to me. I know the goal is to attract the much-prized Independent for 2012. But who do they think is keeping Obama's poll numbers afloat? ... What exactly does OFA think they stand to gain by ridiculing Krugman as a 'political rookie,' a hysterical 'fanatic' and an 'idealogue'? Do they think they hold so much sway with liberals that they can discredit Krugman and thus neutralize his criticism? This smacks more of narcissism and personal vendetta than any sound political 'strategy.'"