When Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) decides you should be fired, you know things are going pretty well.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was gulping ample amounts of water at the podium Wednesday while being asked about his comments to The Hill complaining about the "professional left." His throat was sore, and needed the water, but his mood was not.
Gibbs was smiley and joshing with reporters asking him if he planned to resign. He even threw in a Jet Blue joke — tres au courant. Gibbs is close to President Obama and enjoys job security, at least for now. He put on no show of contrition to make us think otherwise. Liberals aren't happy that Gibbs told The Hill's Sam Youngman that the "professional left" would not be happy unless the U.S. had “Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon.” Gibbs stands by those comments, though he called them inartful, and maintains that liberals will still go to the polls to vote for Democrats this fall.
Just how much the Democratic base turns out this fall for the midterm elections is a serious question, and we won't have the answer until it is over. But there is no question liberals are disappointed with the record of President Obama.
On national security they are sour that he continued many Bush/Cheney policies like indefinite detention; they don't support tripling the troop levels in Afghanistan or increasing drone strikes in Pakistan; and boy, are they mad Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay by Jan. 22, 2010 and did not. The left is mad that Obama didn't get a public option in health-care reform, didn't push for card-check for labor unions, didn't push for immigration reform and didn't make an early effort on the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell." Finally, more recently, they fumed over his apparent retreat on climate legislation in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.
What Gibbs, and the president, find so frustrating is not so much members of Congress fighting for reelection in a tough environment, since those members tend to tack to the center anyway. It isn't the liberals from safe congressional districts who represent bright blue urban areas where Obama remains the most popular. It is the blogs, interest groups and media on the left that give him the most grief.
In defense of Gibbs and Obama, they are correct. Those in the "professional left" will not be pleased until everything is passed. No matter that the votes aren't there, they complain and criticize nonetheless. If they really wanted more liberal votes in Congress, then they will go out and get people who agree with them elected this fall.
Let's see if they do.
WILL DEMS RESOLVE THE TAX CUT DEBATE BEFORE NOVEMBER?Ask A.B. is off for two weeks and returns Tuesday, Aug. 24. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.