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Unborn, unchanging, undying Universe
12:06 PM on 08/12/2010
It's about time Gibbs gave back what the WH has been receiving from the progressive caucus, unrelenting criticism for trying to unite rather than divide (that's change I believe in). I gag when I hear the progressive caucus referred to as the "Democratic base." Only 25% of Dems in Congress are progressives. 25% is not the base.
National elections are won with the swing votes in the middle, which is why Obama is a centrist. It's where things get done. GOP swinging hard to the right offer Dems a golden opportunity to win the middle of America. If Dems waste this opportunity by swinging hard to the left, alienating the center, they will lose and have no one to blame but themselves.
I continue to be amazed by all the lefty Dems who thought they were electing a radical because in the primaries Obama campaigned more to the center than Hillary Clinton, yet Obama won. Hello! He was elected by centrists, with the help of the radical left which had annointed Obama as some kind of messianic leftist leader that he never was. I'll be disappointed if the left abandons Obama, the party's center, the opportunity provided by the GOP's hard swing to the right, and any hope of accomplishing anything progressive. A Dem loss in November will not pull Obama over to the left. There will be nothing to celebrate but self-destruction.
12:17 PM on 08/12/2010
If what you say is true then you should readily understand why the "left" has lost enthusiasm for Obama. Yes, there were some who thought that he would create a leftist government and be all for the people and not the rich. Most of us, though, thought that he would stop the slide to the right and treat the people like we counted. Instead he has given in to the right before he gets started on some things (Health Care) and just lost interest in other things (DADT). And now he is supporting all the Blue Dog Dems. What's "left" to care about?
Unborn, unchanging, undying Universe
12:34 PM on 08/12/2010
DADT is on its way out; Obama shows respect for the military by allowing them the 12 months or so it will take for the military's established role in review for implementation any changes in personnel policy. Be patient. Change, by definition, takes time. When this one goes through, the military will "own" the decision to repeal DADT and allow openly gay to serve subject to equal rules of military decorum and public behavior.
12:18 PM on 08/12/2010
National elections don't go very far without someone to knock on doors, man phone banks, and stuff envelopes.

The center makes up their mind at the last minute and never does this work. They're also the most unreliable about getting to the polls mid-term. So alienating your base is bad policy.

If losing one or two elections to stop the corporate buyout of the party, or to build a real choice that differs from Republicans and let those sellouts go the way of the Whigs, so be it.

Let those in the middle keep moving the ball right. Next up: Obama's bipartisan deficit commission and their centrist push to pay for the wars by cutting Social Security benefits.

Thanks centrists. The middle way isn't always the best way.
Unborn, unchanging, undying Universe
12:35 PM on 08/12/2010
So your solution to centrism is to give the power back to the GOP. You prove my point about self-destruction.
12:58 PM on 08/12/2010
There are a lot of ways to work for change. Better to volunteer for a food bank than to waste your time on Democrats who cut food stamps in a recession and call it a liberal triumph.
Stand Up, Show Up, Speak Up
11:52 AM on 08/12/2010
It's not only that the economy is facing deflation; working people across the country are deflated, particularly Democrats. We of the "professional left" feel like we've done so much trying to support Obama and move the country in a direction that would benefit everyone, not just the already wealthy of Wall Street. And for what?

We have lost so much, and it's not at all clear what the Administration plans to do about it. What is Obama going to do to save our lives, let alone improve them, because I'm just about worn out trying from where I am.

As far as I can tell, Obama is making a few campaign speeches where he must and otherwise hiding out in the White House.

Why isn't he using that eloquent voice of his to tell the country what is really going on with Right Wing politics and to build support for programs that would really help. Why isn't he jawboning Congress? Why hasn't he put a comprehensive "Save America's People" before the Congress?

We need presidential "Profiles in Courage," not name calling by the president's spokesboy.

Where the heck is the President?
12:19 PM on 08/12/2010
Lining up his post-Presidential gig on the board of Goldman Sachs.
12:31 PM on 08/12/2010
Goldman Sachs?

What makes you think Obama is in cohoots with Goldman Sachs?
12:22 PM on 08/12/2010
we have done nothing
the tea party has held rallies
actually fielding candidates
in one year
12:59 PM on 08/12/2010
The rallies are taking place, they just don't get covered by the corporate media.
11:49 AM on 08/12/2010
After reflection, Gibbs is just the messenger. The administration really should have sent Rahm back to Illinois to run in one of those swing House districts and brought in someone with -- well, a milder -- DLC disposition to be chief of staff. Not sure what they can do with Axelrod, but SOMEBODY needs a Road to Damascus revelation about the political center and coherent principles.

I guess Rick Warren must not be around to help.
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11:39 AM on 08/12/2010
hellava blog. you mirrored my frustration all but the equal pay. i think aliens came and took our barack and subbed something else.
To deny reality is to embrace ignorance
11:38 AM on 08/12/2010
Great article --- and unfortunately all too true. Gibbs' comment wasn't some off-the-cuff burst of frustration, it was POLICY. This is how those in the White House think.

Reading the comments below I see a common belief: Obama's people will never read this stuff, and even if they do they won't care. They have their own analysis of the state of the nation and their own agenda and it apparently has nothing to do with the left or even with mainstream Democratic principles (or what's left of them).

After 19 months it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the Obama Administration is, as many charge, corporatist. All the folksy talk of hard-working citizens abused by evil Wall Street bankers is just electoral politics; they don't seem to care any more than Bush did.
12:22 PM on 08/12/2010
they listen to the right because they make noise
the left is doing nothing
01:01 PM on 08/12/2010
The right make noise because Fox News jumped on the bandwagon and the rest of the media follow suit. There are many progressive rallies in my city, but they aren't covered by the local news. The gay rights rallies are much larger than tea party rallies, but you never see them on TV either.
Vote third party.
11:33 AM on 08/12/2010
Spot on. Let's hope someone in the Gibbs press corp is reading this. But not likely.
Been there, done that, lived to tell
11:21 AM on 08/12/2010
"Perhaps some will argue that Obama is playing multi-dimensional chess and is making some crafty move to try to regain his appeal among independents by showing his independence from the Left."

Perhaps so. There is a cadre that specializes in this mystifying defense; I salute their obstinacy.
But try as I might, I cannot see any sense to that retort or to the so-called chase for “independents”.

Progressives, liberals, independents, new voters, and not a small fraction of cross-over Republicans made their voices abundantly clear in November of 2008. If we are losing independents (as we have lost new voters and are dissuading many liberals from voting), it isn't because we've run toward the mythical middle -- it's because we've broken faith with the promises made and the hopes held.

Health care reform is just one tarnished example. And before anyone starts nattering about “a fractious Congress” and “an opposition party dedicated to the failure of any small shred of his agenda” (as Mr. Weigant noted above), I would simply like to know why the best parts of reform were NEVER EVEN PUT ON THE TABLE! (I would also like to know why Elizabeth Warren hasn’t yet been nominated for the consumer protection agency; the failure to do so seems to me to be a microcosm of the failure to act in other arenas.)
11:21 AM on 08/12/2010
In addition to the problems this administration is causing for itself, I fear there is going to be a long term, potentially disastrous one coming out of it: all the young people who got involved for the first time will be forever jaded by this WH. Me, I'm old enough to taste my own bile and go vote for the lesser evil anyway, because the alternative terrifies me, but what about all the college kids? They believed in "change you can believe in" and got nothing of the sort. If the president were to stand up and fight and point and condemn the opposition and lose, at least we could all have some faith that a politician could actually mean what he says...this way...well, we're left with "at least we got something" over and over, and that's not exactly going to rally the troops.
11:12 AM on 08/12/2010
"if anyone in power reads it..." Heh. Yes, some low-level worker in the basement of the White House will be going through this article and comments section later today, tallying "yeas" and "nays". She'll send the total up to some mid-level boss, who will file it under "HP Blather" and forget all about it.

Rahm, Robert, Barack will never even hear your complaints. Much less act on them.
11:05 AM on 08/12/2010
Of course, this isn't a communications problem the Obama Administration is suffering. We are getting their message loud and clear.
Fran Simmons
Military wife, autism advocate, politics junkie.
11:00 AM on 08/12/2010
Great analysis but sheesh, could there BE any more sentence fragments in this article? It makes the content nearly unreadable.
Chris Weigant
04:36 PM on 08/12/2010
Fran Simmons -

I get that way when I get annoyed, sorry.


Enjoying life in West Ohio
10:57 AM on 08/12/2010
This isn't the worst example of Democratic cowardice. I vividly recall the 1968 convention where the leadership tried to pretend they could play the same old politics even though the city of Chicago was over-run with anti-war demonstrators. Don't mistake the circumstances. Those demonstrators were speaking to the party: end Vietnam now. They knew it was within the power of the Democratic party to stop that disastrous war. Yet while Mayor Daley's police pounded on demonstrators the craven Democratic leadership turned their backs, taking for granted that the base would stay with them because the other choice was the much reviled Richard Nixon.

I proudly voted for Eldridge Cleaver. HHH lost narrowly to RMN. The war didn't end. As many Americans died after the election as before. We got cointelpro, "benign neglect," the southern strategy, runaway inflation, and ultimately Ronald Reagan. Yet, I would do it again.

The current Democratic party must cut its ties with Wall Street and stop tacking to the right. It must embrace its progressive principles. While I condemn the Naderites who cynically handed the 2000 election to the Bushites, I share the feelings of many outraged "professional left[ies]." If you won't speak for us at least speak to us. If you can't do that why should we vote for you?
11:08 AM on 08/12/2010
Hear hear! +1 .
That Chicago story brings back memories - and is a warning to the current President to not take your base's loyalty for granted.
Enjoying life in West Ohio
11:34 AM on 08/12/2010
Current Democratic leadership acts as though the 20th century never happened. Current problems sprouted de novo from the topsoil. Understandably they're preoccupied with cleaning up GW Bush's mess, but the struggles of the last century inform progressive ideology: Trust-busting, unionizing, the New Deal, the Great Society, the civil rights movement. Towering values like social justics and ecnomic justice. We didn't make this a better place by triangulating and watering down those principles.

When Gibbs said we pro-lefties want Canadian healthcare and the elimination of the Pentagon he had no sense of his own irony. Yes unequivocally to Canadian healthcare, and let's cut the defense budget by 50 percent. No wonder many Americans see both parties as sides of the same coin. All they hear is right wing noise and centrist cynicism. Instead of seeking (unarticulated) progressive solutions to the disaster of Reaganomics they turn to the looney tune Tea Bagger fringe because (at the most supercial possible level) the TB's seem to stand for something.
10:51 AM on 08/12/2010
Three cheers for Chris! As a "professional lefty," I too was an avid supporter of Barrack Obama, but the crowd that he ended up surrounding himself with, including Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod and Obama's "Rasputin", Rahm Emanuel, turns me off--REALLY TURNS ME OFF! The arrogance spewing from Gibbs and his ne'er-do-well colleagues is enough to turn anyone off. Yet, Obama continues to rely on these obviously power-drunk droids. Tragic, very, very tragic for America!
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10:57 AM on 08/12/2010
I suppose you're a big fan of the vice president, too.
Been there, done that, lived to tell
10:38 AM on 08/12/2010
Two things Obama could do TODAY to calm the waters:

1. Nominate Elizabeth Warren
2. Engage Don't Ask-Don't Tell and stop the obscene waste of outstanding military personnel
One more Thing
11:48 AM on 08/12/2010
He'd do them in a NY minute if suggested by a Republican.
Stand Up, Show Up, Speak Up
12:13 PM on 08/12/2010
He could, but he won't. Teams of rivals within the White House? Obama can't even stand criticism from outside his stodgy, right-leaning edifice.
10:28 AM on 08/12/2010
Oh, yes, we continue to hear the old saw to the effect that "our children and grandchildren will be the ones to foot the bill."

Let's see, the Republicans began floating that line during the Johnson Administration.

If it were true, then a whole bunch of us who were 20 somethings back in those halycon days would today be footing the bill.

Anyone you know in the poorhouse today from footing the bill?

Didn't think so.

But then TODAY there's Republican Party MALFEASANCE IN OFFICE that brought on the Great Recession.

Anyone you know in the poorhouse TODAY as a result of the GREAT RECESSION?

Oh, those 30,000 or so poor souls in Atlanta lining up for housing as we speak?

Or the 9 or 10 million workers now unemployed.

Or the millions of Americans who so far have lost their homes to foreclosure?

Or the tens of millions of older Americans who've had their life savings savaged?

Or . . .

I see.