… by cleverly adopting a circular firing squad formation.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs raises his sights and gets a bead on the target:
“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.”
Glenn Greenwald takes it personally, almost as if Gibbs is aiming directly at him:
“Robert Gibbs — in one of the most petulant, self-pitying outbursts seen from a top political official in recent memory, half derived from a paranoid Richard Nixon rant and the other half from a Sean Hannity/Sarah Palin caricature of The Far Left — is here to tell you that the real reason you’re dissatisfied with the President is because you’re a fringe, ideological, Leftist extremist ingrate who needs drug counseling…
The Democrats have been concerned about a lack of enthusiasm on the part of their base headed into the midterm elections. These sorts of rabid, caricatured, Fox-News-copying attacks on the Left will undoubtedly help generate more enthusiasm — more loud clapping — for the Democrats. I know I’m eager to go canvass and clap for Democrats after reading Gibbs’ noble, inspiring vision. If it were Gibbs’ goal to be as petulant and self-pitying as possible, what could he have done differently?…
I hope there are enough drug testing facilities to accommodate Talking Points Memo reporters, Charlie Savage, the lawyers from EFF, Bob Herbert, Anthony Romero, Russ Feingold, and The New York Times Editorial Board. I don’t know anyone who asserts that Obama is the same as Bush — I don’t believe that and never asserted that — but if anyone needs to be “drug tested,” it would be those denying that many of Bush’s most controversial policies and actions have been embraced in full by Barack Obama.”
Nate Silver takes a shot at understanding the exercise:
“…the White House has had two incredibly cynical moments in the past several weeks — Gibbs’ rant today and the premature firing of Shirly Sherrod three weeks ago. Both reflected politics at its worst, the clumsiest possible efforts at “triangulation”.
I am taking it for granted, of course, that Gibbs’s comments today will prove not to be a cagey political strategy: they were so naked and inartful, such a Velveeta attempt at Sister Souljah moment, that I don’t see how they possibly could be. They will annoy the left but do nothing to placate Obama’s critics on the right or persuade those in the center.”
The full gun battle can be watched here.
From the sidelines, Matt Welch comments on the poor marksmanship:
“And though the existence of progressive-left criticism of Obama has been one of the few heartening things about political discourse these past 19 miserable months, I wish more lefties were making the George W. Bush comparison on things like bailouts and spending binges and military surges and WoT detentions and entitlement expansion and Old Europe-tweaking and drug raids and obscenity prosecutions and general bullshittery.”
Although – strictly speaking – I guess I am not a lefty now.
But I was in 2006, and hope to be again in 2012. Does that count?
Mister Gibbs sheepishly “walked back” his earlier statement, describing it as “inartful”.
My question is not why his liberal base is frustrated, that is pretty obvious. My question is what exactly was Gibbs trying to do? The initial rant was not “off the cuff”. Let’s get real. Gibbs serves up exactly nothing that is not first chewed up, digested and excreted by Axelrod and Rahm.
Then I read this in his artful walk back from the interview:
“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.”
Now I get it. They want to run against GWB again in 2010 because – you know – it worked last time. I mean – Bush was not running then… Bush is not running now… What’s the difference?
But they really can’t run against Bush if the best and brightest in their base keep saying that Obama is acting just like Bush.
This was all about getting them to stop making that comparison – at least until after the election.
x-posted from Divided We Stand United We Fall”