Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Punching the hippies,aka, the Democratic Party base

Also known as Democratic officials trashing the Democratic base. Glenn Greenwald tells the story of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs showing his respectability by trashing Democratic voters in Robert Gibbs attacks the fringe losers of the left Salon 08/10/2010. He includes an update on the ritual walkback Gibbs later did, saying "what I may have said inartfully."

This is a silly dance in itself. And there are a number of things we could say about it. It shows the Democrats stuck in their chronic defensive crouch. It risks discouraging base voters in this year's elections. It squanders chances to reorient the general political narrative in a more Democratic direction. It panders to conservatives who aren't likely to vote for Democrats anyway. It sounds dumb on the face of it. And so on.

Digby makes an important further observation about it in this post, borrowing a famous phrase from Franklin Roosevelt for her title, Welcome Their Hatred Hullabaloo 08/10/2010.

What with all the hoopla over Robert Gibbs' comments today it pays to simply remember that everyone in Washington hates liberals. ...

But what's dangerously myopic about going ballistic as Gibbs did in his statements is that just 10 years ago we had a little event in which only a tiny portion of the base went with a third party bid from the left --- and the consequences were catastrophic. Democrats, of all people, should remember that every vote matters.

It's embarrassing to have David Frum point out the obvious --- that the Republicans fear their base and the Democrats hate theirs, but it has been so since I was a kid --- a long time ago. At some point they are going to realize that their demanding activist base is the way it is and that they need to figure out a way to deal with it rather than rail against it. You cannot browbeat people into loving you and you can't argue them into being enthusiastic. Certainly characterizing them in cartoon terms by saying "they want to eliminate the Pentagon", they are on drugs and --- worst of all --- suggesting they are not part of America --- isn't going to get you there. [my emphasis in bold]
Markos Moulitsas weighs in on Gibbs (Inartful Daily Kos 08/10/2010):

So here's Gibbs "reality" -- something that a pseudo-conservative says on MSNBC says means that liberal bloggers want Canadian healthcare and the elimination of the Pentagon. Oh, and we wouldn't be happy even if Dennis Kucinich was president. Because the blogosphere is a hotbed of Dennis Kucinich supporters. Sheesh.

Whatever. Gibbs is clearly locked up tight in his DC bubble. There's no other way to explain how he'd think that Ratigan was somehow liberal. Why? Because he was on MSNBC? The same network that blacklisted me because I criticized Joe Scarborough? Criticism, by the way, that was defending the administration from his (and GOP) bullshit attacks?
Meanwhile, in the real world, Markos points out there are real reasons that Democratic base voters and others have to be dissatisfied with the Obama administration's performance, whether or not we think a McCain-Palin administration would have been worse:

The unemployment rate is brutal, while high-profile cave-ins to nefarious interests, like the Cornhusker Kickback during the health care debate did more to drive the Democrats' numbers down than any blog post or MSNBC segment ever did.

It may be easier to blame the dirty fucking hippies and kick them in the face, but that sure won't address the root cause of Democratic malaise, and it sure as heck won't better motivate base Democrats into helping close this November's intensity gap.
Glenn makes the straighforward point on why Democrats need to criticize Obama's shortcomings:

Being a rational, engaged citizen means objecting when political leaders do things that you think are wrong or bad and praising them when they do things you think are good and constructive. That even includes President Obama. It's just that simple, and pointing to Scary John Boehner hovering in the corner in order to ratchet up fear levels isn't going to change that, nor should it. Barack Obama is President of the U.S. at least until January, 2013, and wields vast power. It's therefore vital that he, like any other political official, be held accountable for the bad actions he undertakes -- just as he himself always argued.
Or, at least that's what he argued before he became President.

DemFromCT is not specifically addressing Gibbs' dumb comments in Left out of the process" Daily Kos 08/10/2010. But he puts his finger on why the Democrats' at-least-we're-not-as-bad-as-Republicans electoral strategy for 2010 is problematic:

Voters get the part about "Bush sucks". They get the part about the GOP being out of ideas. But they also get the part about Wall Street getting a more sympathetic ear than Main Street. That's the consequence of catfood commissions, dawdling on unemployment benefits, and pretending jobs don't matter as much as the deficit. That latter includes Blue Dogs, so don't blame it all on the GOP (even though much of it is them.)

Voters are results oriented, and the economic results right now are not pretty, regardless of whatever steps are being made to fix things in the future. Speaking of the future, the question on the table is "will that future include me?" If people are uncertain whether your plans include them, why would they vote for you? [my emphasis]

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