Just in case yesterday was the one day of the summer where you unhooked your internet umbilical cord and were consequently far enough away from the general population that you couldn’t hear either the shrieks of outrage from the liberals or the squeals of schadenfreude-laden glee from the conservatives, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said some really dicky stuff:
“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”
The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”
I have no doubt that I am not part of the “professional left.” From what Gibbs said in his total non-apology today, the “professional left” is apparently people on cable TV. So… I guess Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, and a couple of other wonks over at MSNBC, and… uh… Michael Moore? I have a hard time buying that Gibbs took time out of his busy day to direct some spittle-flecked invective at people who can probably be counted on one person’s fingers and toes.
Be that as it may, considering I’m not one of the “liberal elite” (ooh, scary), that statement still really pissed me off. Because you’re damn right I’m not going to be satisfied until we get a reasonable health care system. (Though, really, the Pentagon is just fine where it is.)
There are a lot of specific points in what he said that I could address, like the whole thing with comparing Obama to Bush – which is not something I would personally do, though every time Obama continues a Bush era policy that widdles all over privacy and freedom, I cry a little – but I’m not going to. Instead, I’d like to go to the root cause of why exactly I still want to knock Mr. Gibbs one, right in the kisser.
It’s simple. Mr. Gibbs, you don’t own me. And, come to that, neither does your boss. I may have donated money to the campaign (and I did), and I may have proudly voted for Obama (which I also did), but that in no way obligates me to keep my mouth shut when he does something I don’t like. Particularly not when he’s specifically said on several occasions that the left ought to hold him accountable – or does that only apply if the left has nice things to say?
Coincidentally, I am far more invested in my relationship with my husband than I am in my relationship with the President of the United States, and you know what? I’m not obligated to keep my mouth shut when he does something dumb either.
And neither of those simple facts would change, even if I were Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann or whoever Mr. Gibbs claims he was having his tantrum at. They aren’t owned by the guy they voted for either. And, coincidentally, I also think both of them spend a lot more time saying nice things about Obama (and his various accomplishments) than I ever have.
When Bush was President, I think there was this idea in everyone’s mind that he had monolithic, unquestioning support from the right. I don’t know how much of that was reality and how much of it was a news narrative, though it’s pretty easy to make arguments that the Republicans are more disciplined than the Democrats in general (but let’s be honest here… slime mold is more disciplined than the Democratic party in general), that they have Fox News, and that there was quite a bit of equating criticizing the President with being un-American. So perhaps President Obama – or at the very least his press secretary – thinks that he ought to be on the receiving end of a similar sort of support. That he deserves it, even. That’s certainly the vibe that I’m getting from this.
No one in this world deserves that sort of dogmatic support from me, or from anyone else. Not even my husband, my best friend, or my parents. And certainly not a politician. If someone does something I don’t like, or something that I think is a bad idea, I am well within my rights to say so. And in fact, I actually start getting worried if I feel like I’m agreeing with someone too close to 100% of the time, because that’s just not natural.
That’s why, even a day later, I’m still angry at Mr. Gibbs, because I think his real position is that we shouldn’t be allowed to criticize the President if we voted for him, that we owe him some kind of special allegiance, and that we should just shut up and like what we’re given. No, I don’t think so.
And if you just take his comments on their face and not read into them, they don’t make much sense either. There really aren’t that many people (I’m not going to say none, since it’s not like I know everyone in the world) saying the words that Gibbs stuffed into his lefty meaniehead straw man’s mouth. A lot of lefties (and not-so-lefties) are bitching about the President compromising, or starting negotiations too much toward the center, or who knows what else. But I don’t think too many of them are claiming that (a) the President has accomplished absolutely nothing, and if they are, shame on them, and (b) that they wish they’d never voted for him, because the alternative was so great.
Aside: Often when someone coming from the left bitches about the President, a smug conservative pops out of the woodwork and snidely asks something like, “How’s that hopey changey working out for ya?” Well, here’s the thing. If we’re sitting on our blogs and whinging about how Obama’s not being liberal enough, what sort of brain tumor does it take to think that somehow means we’ve got buyer’s remorse and wish we voted for McCain and the lipstick-wearing IQ black hole that he wanted as his Vice President? Yes, because if someone’s upset that Obama’s talking about offshore drilling, the people who were chanting, “Drill, baby, drill” at their convention are the option we wish we’d gone for. So even if I’m wasting hundreds of words bitching about Obama (or as the case may be, his press secretary), the hopey changey is still working out just fine, thanks.
Frankly, Mr. Gibbs should be happy that the lefties are spending so much time kvetching about the current politics. Because that means we’re still paying attention. The alternative would be an absence of commentary, and an electorate that would rather play Madden on the Xbox than volunteer, donate, and vote.
This very well could be an all-new, exciting evolution in the Democratic strategy of taking careful aim and shooting itself in the foot, right before an election.
“I don’t think they will [stay home], because I think what’s at stake in November is too important to do that,” he said.
Pinning your strategy on the Republicans being so chock full of the crazy that the progressives you shit all over won’t dare not vote just seems like a really bad move to me. But what do I know? I’m not supposed to be talking because I don’t have anything nice to say.