Before we focus on our topic du jour, we must take a moment for a non-political reflection.
We were saddened to hear of the death of former Senator Ted Stevens and we extend our condolences to his children and wife, Catherine. As you have probably heard, Ted Stevens was killed when a small plane crashed en route to a fishing lodge, killing half of its passengers. We read that his first wife, Ann, had been killed in 1978 in a crash of a Lear jet at the Anchorage International Airport. Stevens survived that crash. The statistical chances of a person being in two deadly plane crashes must be astronomical, but probably lower if one lives in Alaska and depends on small planes for transportation.
Stevens was the longest serving Republican Senator and, although his career ended amid ethics charges, he had retained the widespread affectionate regard by the citizens of Alaska for whom he had worked devotedly and successfully for 40 years. As one news account said, Ted Stevens was known throughout his state simply as “Uncle Ted.”
Rest in peace, Senator Stevens.
Now to President Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. For some reason, Gibbs took it upon himself (or maybe this was the brainchild of high-level White House strategy (Axelrod, Jarrett, Emanuel, et al.) to send an angry shot into cyberspace, blasting liberals. Instead, Gibbs and company should be using that energy to blast conservatives for their recent wingnut ideas that they have been circulating, such as the one about “revisiting” the Fourteenth Amendment. I’m one of those “Damn” liberals and I can tell you that to my ears Gibbs’s remarks are just another example of the political ineptitude that we’ve been worried and writing about.
Recently, Gibbs sat down in the West Wing with folks from The Hill, a popular, widely read website and let loose his little boy rage at the big, bad Liberals who don’t appreciate all that Obama has done for the country. Here is a sample of what The Hill reported:
"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.”
Wouldn’t you call that a tantrum?
That’s not all The Hill’s author, Sam Youngman, threw at “liberals.” We’re accused of blaming Obama for many things, such as abandoning the public option, tepid support and weak leadership of the health reform, pushing an anemic stimulus package, not closing Guantánamo, and dragging his feet about DADT.
How much of this list was from Youngman himself, stirring up trouble, and how much was actually part of Gibbs’s tantrum is a question. It sounds to me as if Youngman took the opportunity to throw a brick into a hornet’s next. The only trouble with doing that is that you can never really predict who will get stung.
In any case, it is just plain stupid to be complaining about one’s liberal base, particularly when a difficult mid-term election is less than three months away. As Glenn Greenwald reminds us: “GOP pols fear the GOP base and Dem pols hate the Dem base.”