When you work in a building where there’s a pity party raging 24/7, some of it’s bound to bleed over eventually in what you say to the press.
Truth be told, this is the political equivalent of the Jet Blue flight attendant story, isn’t it? The man’s clearly lost his mind, yet his rage is so darned righteous that you can’t help but root for him.
Pop the emergency chute, Gibbsy. Run.
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.”
Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”…
Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.
He duly walked back his Kinsleyan gaffe a few hours later, insisting that he spoke “inartfully” because he watches too much cable or whatever. Laying aside the fact that it’s moronic to antagonize your base three months before a major election, a simple question for you: Is he right about lefties never being happy with The One or not? PPP reports today that Obama’s support among liberals has been both very high and very consistent, topping out near 90 percent. (Then again, Gibbs made clear he wasn’t talking about liberals generally, just the ones who make their living whining about politics.) Lefty Chris Bowers counters with an interesting catch, though, in noting that Obama’s approval rating among self-identified liberals in Gallup’s polling over the last few weeks has averaged just 74 percent, a 15-point decline from exit polls on election day 2008 and a far steeper drop than he’s suffered among moderates and conservatives. (Whether it’s fair to compare exit polling in a binary election to a referendum-type metric like approval rating is another question.) I’m not sure why Gibbs is surprised that ideologues of either stripe would grumble about The One, though. Like I said a few weeks ago, Obama’s strategy of governance has been to let Congress lead and accept half a loaf in the interest of passing something, which is a nice way to run up the scoreboard on legislative “achievements” and a lousy way to get hardcore partisans excited about your agenda. They took an $800 billion stimulus and a health-care bill without a public option in lieu of a $3 trillion Krugman blockbuster and a single-payer program because they knew they couldn’t get either of the latter, and now they’re surprised liberals are disappointed. Boo hoo.
Speaking of hardcore ideologues who reside in left-wing fantasyland, Olby’s planning to uncork a special comment at Gibbs tonight. Because if your side’s just been accused of being shrill, unreasonable, and dogmatic, the guy you want taking up the banner on your behalf is clearly the modern-day Murrow. Exit question: Is Obama getting ready to push Gibbsy down the emergency chute? First there was the dust-up with Pelosi when he said the GOP might take back the House, now this. Keith Ellison’s already calling for him to be fired, in fact — and as it turns out, Gibbs missed today’s briefing. Hmmmm.
Update: MKH rounds up amusing if predictable nutroots reaction. Idle thought: Gibbs’s comments would have generated the best JournoList thread evah, huh?