Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Men to Whom I Owe a Beer: Robert Gibbs

"The 'professional left' will only be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality."
So said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs this Monday, after finally reaching his boiling point with the left-wing members of the Democratic party who have been mercilessly berating Barack Obama for supposedly 'failing' to achieve their agenda.
"Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as health-care reform, they wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president."
For the White House, the Press Secretary's outburst is a bit of a political bombshell - after all, the 'far left' of the party were the driving force behind the 'Obamamania' that got America's first black president elected. But as far as I'm concerned, Robert Gibbs is absolutely right in attacking them for the shitty attitude they've had of late.

Since November 2008, we seem to have been fed a never-ending stream of bullshit from both right and left regarding our historic president. The right-wing have painted him as a socialist dictator, spending this country into bankruptcy (despite Obama still needing to splash out another two trillion dollars to draw level with the national debt that George Bush Jnr. saddled us with.)

The worst thing is that the far left of the Democratic party have not just swallowed this right-wing propaganda - they've actively embraced it. To them, Obama is an ideological crusader who has consistently fallen short of their unrealistic expectations.

It's only a very few of us - of whom I arrogantly consider myself one of - that actually 'get' President Barack Obama. Thanks to my father, I've actually read his biography and his political manifesto and it's clear that Obama is absolutely, irredeemably moderate in his politics, contrary to popular and unpopular belief.

Neither the left wing or the right wing have the slightest clue about the man in the White House. One side paints him as a socialist dictator, the other portrays him as a do-nothing layabout who got elected on the novelty of his skin tone (as usual, the far left tend to be the racist ones, contrary to their rhetoric.)

The reality is that Barack Obama and his administration are trying to be the most impossible of presidencies - all things to all men. From the war abroad to health care reform at home, they've literally ham-stringed themselves trying to reach bipartisanship - and been hammered by self-serving political parasites from either side during the process.

For the record, I don't agree with Barack Obama on a vast number of issues - but I trust him a whole hell of a lot more than the vindictive extremes on the left and right wing of politics. What's more, I have an enormous amount of respect for Robert Gibbs. Not only did he call the elite left-wing on their bullshit - he also stood by his remarks when he was forced to confront them.

There are very few politicians I would happily stand a beer for - but I hope to one day be able to buy Robert Gibbs a pint. Right or wrong, he took a stand I have enormous respect for - and as a result, I have enormous respect for him.


Anonymous said...

Your debt comparison between GWB and BO is laughable. Remember one was president during a terrorist attack (a real emergency, unlike the 'emergency' BO used to justify spending trillions) and was president for 8 years. He's not even made it 2 years yet...

Tom said...
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Tom said...
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Tom said...

Your analysis is incorrect.

Obama is not trying to achieve any sort of bipartisanship. For one thing, he doesn't need to - if he can unite his own party, he can pass anything he wants.

If you look at what's been going on since Obama took office, he's been trying to unite the liberal and moderate wings* of the Democratic party. When he can do so, his legislation passes. When he can't, it doesn't.

You should read Gibbs's remarks in this light - he's trying to unite his own party, rather than to reach out to Republicans.

I don't put much trust in books written by a candidate for office. They're always going to portray him as moderate, if he wants to get elected. If you look at what he's done, it's been moderately liberal - generally increases in the amount of government regulation, the size of government handouts, and the amount of government control of the economy. It's not the most liberal you can get - but can you point out any case where Obama has been shrinking government?

Noting that less than halfway through his first term, Obama is drawing near to Bush's spending, the big problem is the difference in the nature of the spending. With the exception of the prescription drug benefit, Bush spent on emergencies. When the war is over, we stop paying for it. TARP cost, but much of it was paid back, with interest.

Obama creates new programs, programs that will outlast his administration, that have no reasonable end in sight. So we'll keep spending for them, year in and year out. That's the big difference. (Not like Bush was incredibly great on spending, either.)

* I actually suspect the Democratic party has more that two wings. While the Republicans have a consistent set of beliefs (one can be an economic, cultural, and foreign-policy conservative at the same time), the Democrats are more of a collection of interest groups. When you have both West Virginia coal miners and California anti-carbon environmentalists in the same party, it's hard to point to a consistent core.

Susanne said...

Interesting post and comments.

Roland Hulme said...

Hi CK - you make a valid point about the time frame, and I'm not happy about a lot of his spending, but the fact remains that Bush saddled up with trillions of dollars of debt. As for the 'real emergency' - it's increasingly clear that there was no excuse to invade Iraq and it's cost the taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars and destabilized the middle east. Frankly, even Obama's spending pales in significance to the waste of money Iraq has turned out to be.

Tom - as usual, you nail me on a number of issues! But I think it's fair to claim Obama has made conciliatory gestures towards the right. I remember when healthcare was coming up, members of his own party were furious that he didn't just 'push it through' while he had the votes and opportunity. The fact that he didn't was because he was trying to reach out to the right.

The fact that reach out failed is largely his fault - sitting down in a room of Republicans and saying "here's the bill, we're not going to change it, now let's get all cosy and bipartisan" came across as arrogant and condescending - but I also argue that the Republican policy of late has been a straight 'no' to anything Obama proposes.

Tom said...

"I remember when healthcare was coming up, members of his own party were furious that he didn't just 'push it through' while he had the votes and opportunity. The fact that he didn't was because he was trying to reach out to the right."

You're confusing "didn't" with "couldn't".

While members of his own party were furious about this, that doesn't mean that they weren't the problem. Obama's bill was leftist-enough that he was unable to find enough votes - among the Democrats - to pass the thing.

Obama's big bipartisan accomplishment is that he can occasionally unite the center-left and far-left components of the Democratic party.