Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Democrats Doing What Democrats Do Best

President Obama's Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, recently lashed out at some progressives and oh my did the fur fly. 

Speaking with Sam Youngman of The Hill, Gibbs said critics among what he termed the "professional left" would not even be "satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president."

"I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it's crazy," Gibbs is quoted as saying.
Oh, the screams of outrage and the gnashing of teeth leading to us Democrats' favorite sport:  fighting among ourselves!  From Twitter to cable news channels, progressives decried Gibb's statement as proof that the Obama administration had abandoned them again!!

To them I say, calm the eff down. Gibbs wasn't talking about you, the grassroots who helped elect President Obama.  What he was talking about is what essentially makes up the left's Talking Heads Corps.  You remember them, the ones who were shouting "The healthcare bill doesn't do everything!  KILL THE BILL!."  That crowd.  Jane Hamsher and David Sirota, I'm looking at you

Gibbs has a point.

These very same people were solidly pro-Obama right up until he was elected now can't find anything the President has done right.  From financial regulation to health care reform and everything in between, they cry that none of it is good enough and it's all Obama's fault.  Iraq pull-out of troops?  Not fast enough.  He hasn't corrected 8 years of Bush Republican civil liberties abuses yet?  He must be just like Bush.  Afghanistan?  Obama is now an imperialist.  And on and on and on.

One has to wonder if these folks had such a good time (rightfully) going after Bush that they find it hard to reign in their inner attack dogs.  One also has to wonder if they are ignorant - willfully or otherwise - about the workings of their own government.  A lot of the AONDs (All Or Nothing Democrats) are blaming the President for things Congress has done.  Case in point:  "Obama has betrayed us by not closing Gitmo!"  Uh, guys?  Congress cut off the money to do that.  If I can remember that, writing from my house in Oregon, why can't you?

I'm no "Obamadrone" or whatever term the never-satisfied left chooses to describe liberals who have the audacity to continue to support the President we just elected two years me.  I'm not 100% happy with everything the Obama administration has done so far and I've written the White House directly to tell them so.  I am, however, very happy with most of the things he's done.  As Press Secretary Gibbs said it:

Gibbs's tough comments reflect frustration and some bafflement from the White House, which believes it has done a lot for the left.

In just over 18 months in office, Obama has passed healthcare reform, financial regulatory reform and fair-pay legislation for women, among other bills near and dear to liberals.

Obama is also overseeing the end of the Iraq war, with the U.S. on schedule to end its combat operations by the end of this month.

He's also added diversity to the Supreme Court by nominating two female justices, including the court's first Hispanic. Yet some liberal groups have criticized his nominees for not being liberal enough.

"There's 101 things we've done," said Gibbs, who then mentioned both Iraq and healthcare.
That ain't too shabby, folks.  "What, are you saying we should never criticize President Obama ever?"  Not even close.  I do think the way you're criticizing the President could use some work.

I'm old enough to remember some of the lessons of the anti-Vietnam war movement.  One of them is this:  Pound the table and alienate the person sitting on the other side of it.  Mr. Obama said many times that we wouldn't agree with everything he did but if you gave him a good argument for your position he very possibly could change his mind.  He's done that twice since being elected.  That requires calmness and respect from the ones doing the arguing though.  He's also had a meeting where the people involved were telling him how wrong he was and how bad he was for doing it.  All that did was anger Obama, who left the meeting and dismissed the ones who jumped down his throat.

Hmm, I wonder which of the two was the better approach?  Toughie.

My suggestion:  Please, all of us should criticize the President and other Democrats when they fail to do what we want.  That pressure is good for the President and the country.  However, don't go into it telling them they're liars, traitors, failed to keep their promises, failures, etc. - that is the path to them hardening their positions and failure for us and any progressive movement.  No one responds well to being called names and everyone in an elected office is first a human being, after all.  Instead, tell them that if they do the right thing we're there for them, will support them and have their backs.  That is guaranteed to get their attention and give you a fair hearing.  Even if they still disagree, we all part as friends and might get the next one going our way.

If that's too much for the "disillusioned left and liberals", well keep a couple of things in mind: 

First, the righties see us bashing our President, fighting among ourselves and the headline in their blogs, newspapers, magazines and TV shows is "See?  Even the liberals don't like Obama!"   I'm not exaggerating about that either - I'm on a few email groups with rightwingers and my email is full of pieces saying just that.  Every day.

Second, dumping Obama and the Congressional Democrats isn't going to get us President Alan Grayson and a Congress full of Kucinichs and Weiners.  What it will get us is President Palin and Speaker of the House John Boehner.  Again, some history:  During the Vietnam era and the '68 election, bashing Hubert Humphrey by the left got us....Richard Nixon.  Demanding liberal ideological purity in '72 nominated George McGovern and gave Nixon a second term by a landslide.  Smacking Jimmy Carter around for being "too conservative" in 1980 gave us Ronald Reagan.  See a pattern here yet?

Let's not have history repeat itself, shall we?

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