Press Clips: On the Couch with Gibbs, Babs & Beck


The nit wit attack that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs leveled at the “professional left,” for their grievous sin of criticizing President Obama when they could be raising money to put his face on Mt. Rushmore, set off a classic Beltway food fight and preoccupied the media for several days with insider drivel that holds little interest or importance for what you might call your “Real People.”

The nation’s capitol was transfixed by the drama: Would Gibbs “walk back” his comment? Would he “walk back” his walk back comment? Was he sending a message from the president, or “off the reservation?” Who is a member of the “professional left” and who is not? Rachel Maddow? Jane Hamsher? Brian Leubitz or Robert “The Oracle” Cruickshank? Will Dennis Kucinich mount a presidential primary challenge in 2012? Inquiring minds want to know.

After the two-day inside baseball buzz had passed, however, there were a couple of more substantive questions that remained: Are Gibbs’s problematic comments symptomatic of a much broader problem – namely that the whole White House bunch is in over their heads? And why, exactly, is the president’s mouthpiece lashing out at the “professional left” instead of, you know, the “professional right,” which has spent every minute since he took office trying to ruin his life?

We liked what Cenk Uygur, our favorite Turkish-American progressive blogger, had to say about the White House whiners missing the fundamental reason for the widespread unhappiness among Obama’s erstwhile strongest supporters:

This isn’t about whether Obama is liberal enough. It’s about whether he’s actually going to challenge the system or just be a cog in it. The system is fundamentally corrupt. Our politicians and their staffs are bought by the highest bidder. They then use the government to funnel taxpayer money to the people who bought them. Conservatives are just as angry about that as liberals are.

I guess the president and his staff think they’re clever because they played the same old Washington game a little better. I guess they think they couldn’t have done any better. I guess they think that this is the best they could do given the state of Washington. But that’s the whole point. We didn’t elect them to accept the Washington status quo as reality. We elected them to challenge and ultimately change that reality. And it seems like, on that count, they didn’t even try. That’s what we’re so disappointed by.

Even before the Gibbs outburst, Peter Wehner, writing in Commentary, latched onto another significant meme, namely that the constant whining and weeping from Administration aides about how hard they work, and how no one appreciates them, wah, wah, is a sentiment better shared with their favorite bartender than the nation’s biggest news organizations:

What is striking is the degree of self-pity we find in Obama’s advisers, which is reflected in the president’s words and attitude as well. Team Obama sounds nothing so much as overmatched and overwhelmed, unable to understand what has gone wrong, and increasingly bitter toward the nation’s capital and the pace and nature of politics.

What we are seeing, I think, is a group of supremely arrogant people humbled by events. They are turning out to be a good deal more incompetent than they (and many Americans) ever imagined. They see impending political doom in the form of the midterm elections. Yet this is not leading them toward any apparent serious self-reflection; rather, they are engaging in an extraordinary degree of whining, finger-pointing, and self-indulgence.

Life in the White House is challenging; anyone who has worked there can testify to that. And Washington, D.C., is certainly an imperfect city, as all are. But the impression Team Obama is trying to create — that no group has ever faced more challenges, more difficulties, or more hardships — is silly and somewhat pathetic…

If Obama and his aides don’t see that or anything like that — if they view politics and governing only through a lens tinted by bitterness, frustration, and resentment — then it is time for them to step aside. If not, then they should man up. Self-pity is a terribly unattractive quality.

We second the motion.

From the cutting room floor:

Speaking of knuckleheaded national press narratives: Perhaps they just made up this whole “voters are angrier than ever” thing ?

All you need to know about the prognosis for proponents of gay marriage: Glenn Beck thinks they’re nuts.

Jacob Weisberg does a swell job of getting to the core of what’s so upsetting about Sarah Palin.

We don’t care what the NYT thumbsuckers think, we still want our con-con.

Peter Schrag, our favorite Smart Fella’, digs into the campaign spending reports and comes back with a perceptual scoop – what Marx might call the fundamental contradiction. 

We get letters: Our thoughtful and restrained analysis about Barbara Boxer’s suddenly renewed interest in bipartisanship drew a characteristically civil riposte from Babs handler Rose Kapolczynski, the  only political strategist in California who doesn’t equate winning with trash-talking and spiteful meanspiritedness.

As I read Calbuzz over my cereal bowl this morning, I was shocked that you were shocked to hear Barbara Boxer talking about bipartisanship.   To help you off the fainting couch, I offer the attached list of just a few dozen of Boxer’s bipartisan initiatives.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: They put their pants on the same as us, one leg at a time. Or not.

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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar stevefromsacto says:

    You’re wrong. The “nit wit attack” is by those who condemn the most important health care legislation in half a century and the best financial consumer protection laws in decades because they aren’t “perfect.” We’ve been barely able to win these victories in the Congress, so these fools propose to make things even harder by defeating Democrats who are not ideologically “pure.” What Vince Lombardi said about football is equally true of politics: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

  2. avatar Andy says:

    I think you’re just reinforcing the point. Rather than actually try and win what they told us they would go out and win, this White House seems to be interested in a half-a##ed version of what they were actually asked to win and a complete redefiining of the term “win.”

  3. avatar ReilleyFam says:

    Cenk Uygur is correct – BOTH sides are fed up with the corruption of the system more than the ideologies. They express it differently but the core angst is the same. I also think Peter Wehner is partly wrong; what this administration is facing IS about as tough or tougher than what any other administration has faced since FDR. However, his take on the whining nature of this administration is spot-on. Either stay positive and get to work or step aside.

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