A rare moment of Washington honesty

It’s getting so you can’t state an opinion anymore.

Robert Gibbs’, President Obama’s spokesman, complained to The Hill that the far left of the Democratic Party has been unfair in its criticism that Barack Obama hasn’t been far enough left:


“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.”

In the end, the Democrats got together and delivered another public relations gift to Republicans.

It was a refreshing departure from the usual Washington method of taking shots at others — on the record and honest as opposed to anonymously leaking.

It was also a softball for people like Rep. Keith Ellison who called for Gibbs to resign, according to the Huffington Post:


“This is not the first time that Mr. Gibbs has made untoward and inflammatory comments and I certainly hope that people in the White House don’t share his view that the left is unimportant to the president,” he said. “I understand him having some loyalty to the president who employs him, but I think he’s walking over the line.”

Nowhere in Gibbs’ comments did he say the far left was unimportant. On the contrary, he was saying the middle has some importance, too. It took more than the left to get Obama elected.

Gibbs then returned to White House character, and backed down from the fight:


“I watch too much cable, I admit. Day after day it gets frustrating. Yesterday I watched as someone called legislation to prevent teacher layoffs a bailout – but I know that’s not a view held by many, nor were the views I was frustrated about.

So what I may have said in-artfully, let me say this way – since coming to office in January 2009, this White House and Congress have worked tirelessly to put our country back on the right path. Most importantly, to dig our way out of a huge recession and build an economy that makes America more competitive and our middle class more secure. Some are frustrated that the change we want hasn’t come fast enough for many Americans. That we all understand.

But in 17 months, we have seen Wall Street reform, historic health care reform, fair pay for women, a recovery act that pulled us back from a depression and got our economy moving again, record investments in clean energy that are creating jobs, student loan reforms so families can afford college, a weapons system canceled that the Pentagon didn’t want, reset our relationship with the world and negotiated a nuclear weapons treaty that gets us closer to a world without fear of these weapons, just to name a few. And at the end of this month, 90,000 troops will have left Iraq and our combat mission will come to an end.

Even so, we will continue to work each day on the promises and commitments that the President made traveling all over this country for two years and produce the change we know is possible.

In November, America will get to choose between going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess, or moving forward with the policies that are leading us out.

So we should all, me included, stop fighting each other and arguing about our differences on certain policies, and instead work together to make sure everyone knows what is at stake because we’ve come too far to turn back now.”

  • Kris

    The honesty might be refreshing if it weren’t so disingenuous. Obama very closely resembles Bush with respect to his disrespect for transparency and civil rights in the rebranded global war on terror. You certainly don’t have to be high to see the resemblance.

  • Tyler

    Obama: not Jesus, but better than the alternative.

  • http://www.thedeets.com Ed Kohler

    It’s funny to see Ellison worked up about this. I’m sure he deals with people to the left of himself every day as well, so should be able to relate. No matter how far to the left he is, there will be people complaining that he’s not where they’d like him to be on every issue. Basically, what Gibbs said.

  • http://hennepinave.tumblr.com Neal H.

    I have to disagree with you Bob and Ed. The reason “the Left” (I really despise those terms btw) is worked up about these comments is because they show a complete lack of respect for many of the people that supported and voted the Obama administration into office.

    If they want to make a fact based argument for the routes they’ve chosen on health care, the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc., that’s one thing, but to resort to calling their once supporters “crazy” or high on drugs is completely disrespectful, and frankly, hurtful.

    Clearly President Obama isn’t President Bush, and has done quite a few things well, but on a number of issues, his policies look remarkably similar to those of the previous administration and, as Kris aptly noted, it doesn’t take someone being high to notice the resemblance.