What I Meant to Say

10 Aug

In the spirit of kicking Gibbs while he’s down, Greg Sargent and Glen Greenwald both point to a 2005 Daily Kos diary by then Senator Obama in which he asks the progressive left to continue to hold him accountable:

“In that spirit, let me end by saying I don’t pretend to have all the answers to the challenges we face, and I look forward to periodic conversations with all of you in the months and years to come. I trust that you will continue to let me and other Democrats know when you believe we are screwing up. And I, in turn, will always try and show you the respect and candor one owes his friends and allies.”

It’s a relevant reminder of the boss’ brand and broader outlook.  An outlook I’m sure Gibbs got firsthand from the man himself today.  But before dancing in the end zone and celebrating Gibbs’s clear mis-step, I would point readers to the full diary as a useful description of why progressive angst at the President feels misplaced.  This should be of interest in particularly to those, like Jane Hamsher and Greenwald himself, who make  statements like this, “Well, the Obama in the White House is not the Obama who organized, campaigned, raised money and ran for office, so I guess its’ a wash.”

In explaining his decision not to filibuster John Roberts, Senator Obama offers  a broader lament about the strategy, and worldview of progressive advocates:

I am convinced that, our mutual frustrations and strongly-held beliefs notwithstanding, the strategy driving much of Democratic advocacy, and the tone of much of our rhetoric, is an impediment to creating a workable progressive majority in this country.

“According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists – a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog – we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party.  They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda.  In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in “appeasing” the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda.  The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.

I think this perspective misreads the American people.”

There you have it folks.  2005, a much more, let’s say, artful critique of the “professional left”.   You can take issue with his point of view, castigate some of the administration’s compromises, strategic decisions and  success in communicating effectively, but pretending that President Obama is not giving the American people precisely what he presented them as a candidate is, I think, misguided.  This is the Obama we all voted for.  Pretending otherwise is intellectually dishonest and undermines the credibility of your broader critique.

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