On one hand, it’s hard to blame Ray Sandoval. Most of us are tired of Paul Krugman, too, and of the rhetorical bomb-tossers of the Left. On the other hand, we’re not Democratic campaign operatives hoping to garner support for a failing incumbent President, either:
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.
Sandoval quotes Spandan Chakrabati, a former Howard Dean activist, in blasting Krugman and progressives for their criticism of Barack Obama and the debt-ceiling deal:
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.
Er … firebagger? HuffPo’s Amanda Terkel explains that it’s “most likely” a term that combines the “teabagger” epithet beloved by the Left for Tea Party activists and the progressive blog FireDogLake. Chakrabarti says he coined it to emphasize that the progressive Left has become as unreasonable as he sees the Tea Party, more interested in ideological battles than in actual policy progress. FireDogLake blogger Jane Hamsher isn’t amused, according to ABC’s Devin Dwyer:
“What exactly does OFA [Obama for America] think they stand to gain by ridiculing Krugman as a ‘political rookie,’ a hysterical ‘fanatic’ and an ‘ideologue’?,” blasted Jane Hamsher, author of the popular liberal blog FireDogLake. “Do they think they hold so much sway with liberals that they can discredit Krugman and thus neutralize his criticism?”
Oh, I don’t know. After his recent remarks about the boom growth that would follow a space-invasion false alarm, Krugman’s managed to discredit himself without much help from OFA. Maybe the campaign is just trying to catch up to common sense, which admittedly would be a first for them.
Dwyer notes that this isn’t the first time an Obama organization has expressed exasperation with the Left’s punditry:
Since taking office, several top Obama aides have raised the ire of liberals with their words. Former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel last yearprivately called a group of liberal activists “f—ing retarded,” while several months later former press secretary Robert Gibbs lashed out at what he called the “professional left.” One blogger confronted senior strategist David Axelrod to demand an end to the administration’s “hippie punching.”
Bear in mind that these were the very people courted by Obama early in his campaign, when he needed the energy of the activist progressive Left to gain traction against Hillary Clinton in the 2007-8 primary season. In one sense, distancing Obama from Hamsher and Paul “Space Invaders” Krugman is strategic, positioning Obama more to the center and disassociating himself from the hard Left. After all, Obama doesn’t have to worry about a primary challenge this time around, which means he needs to keep his eyes on the general election and winning the center.
However, that assumes the center can be won this time around, and Obama’s polling on the economy puts that into serious doubt. He might have to shift tactics and try to get a base-turnout election to save him, in which case he’ll need Krugman and the “firebaggers” to be on his side. This doesn’t appear to be a good way of arguing that Obama really wants to be more progressive but can’t, which is exactly how he’d need to get a base turnout model like Bush got in 2004.
Hamsher’s right at least in one sense, as she told Terkel at HuffPo: “[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?” It sure isn’t the independents.