|Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
The White House is understandably quite frustrated with the constant attacks it’s faced with from both sides of the spectrum, which led Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to deliver this rather fiery address to the critics on the Left:
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.”
The mild hyperbole in his tirade aside: As one Leftie who often criticizes Obama’s numerous broken promises (mostly regarding criminal rights), the man does have a good point in saying that the Obama administration simply isn’t receiving the credit it deserves for the assload it’s gotten done so far. Seriously, there are plenty of problems with the Obama administration and its fair share of broken promises and even direct flip-flops (such as Obama’s position regarding whistleblowers). It very well merits plenty of criticism for those issues. But even so, to act like the current administration is any where near as bad as the preceding one (or even worse, as I’ve heard here and there) is simply ignorant at best and irrational at worst.
It’s simply true that too many on the Left originally viewed Obama as some sort of Messiah who would swoop in and kick all the baddies out and solve everything before we could cheerily say “buh-bye, Bush!”. I will admit that I was one such optimist at first, to a certain extent. But the thing that everyone must remember is that Obama can’t simply pander to one side or ideology, even his own, and ignore the rest (even if it deserves to be). That’s simply not how politics work, and acting in such a way would do far worse than merely render him unelectable; it would probably destroy the Left’s standing, such as it is, in the process. As the President, Obama must be a pragmatist first and foremost, and a liberal second (though he’s proven to be far more centrist than anything else, if not even a bit right-of-center at times). And pragmatism means doing his best to try and unite differing sides and rally forces on various issues. Failure to understand this is simply having one’s head in the clouds.
However, as right as Gibbs may be that the White House deserves a whole lot more credit than it’s been getting, perhaps saying that naysayers “ought to be drug tested”, amongst other such gems, isn’t the best way to express one’s frustrations placidly if they don’t wish to alienate their electoral base. (Even if some of their reactions can be absurdly over-the-top.)