In a rare unguarded moment, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has lashed out at the "professional Left" for criticizing President Obama. "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality," Gates told The Hill. Obama has been the target of criticisms from the Left for his opposition to gay marriage, his failure to close Guantanamo Bay, and the lack of a public option in the health-care bill. The press secretary almost immediately walked back his statement, saying his comments had been "inartful," but many argue he has damaged the president's rapport with his liberal base ahead of the midterm elections. Are hard-line liberals demanding too much of President Obama, or should the White House be more heedful of its frustrated base? (Watch a Fox News discussion about Gibbs' comments)
Liberal criticism is justified: It's no wonder liberals are frustrated by Obama's progress, says Glenn Greenwald at Salon. There's "widespread economic misery" in the U.S. and all the White House has given us is an "apparently endless devotion to Wall Street," and a host of broken promises ranging from civil rights to gay rights. Gibbs' "petulant and self-pitying" rant is just another slap in the face.
"Robert Gibbs attacks the fringe losers of the Left"
This was no way to handle a disenchanted base: The Left's issue is one of dashed expectations, says Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com. The "grand, poetic narratives" of Obama's campaign has given way to the "prosaic and transactional day-to-day-grind of governance." We've ended up with a series of "good-but-not-great" attempts at reform, but no "real sense of progress." We need hope, not to be made to feel bad.
"As liberals lose hope, the White House is losing its cool"
Liberals need to get real: "I'm with Gibbs," says Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post. These "lefty bloggers and talking heads" need to look at the reality of what is happening in Washington. The Republicans have made Obama fight for every inch of progress he has achieved, all the while successfully portraying him as an "out-of-control socialist." For the Left to blame him for not getting things done is "myopic, forgetful and deranged."
"Robert Gibbs was right to criticize the 'professional Left'"
Maybe Gibbs had a point, but what bad timing: Even if Gibbs' exasperation is valid, says Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly, why on earth did he vent his feelings now, just months before an election? Clearly, his "emotions got the better of him." Now, there must be a "concerted effort to put things right." Gibbs and the West Wing can still play a positive role in marshaling the liberal base in the months leading up to November. "Here's hoping he'll remember that from now on."
"Gibbs 'inartful' mistake"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How I lost all my money
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- 10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2014
- A brief history of the Christmas present
- The age of miracles is over — even for the religious
Subscribe to the Week