There’s a debate going on as to whether President Obama’s recent comments at a fundraiser – where he seemed to criticize liberals – are worthy of note, or simply the standard fare for political fundraiser. Here, first, are the President’s comments:
Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get — to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed – oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. If you get the financial reform bill passed — then, well, I don’t know about this particular derivatives rule, I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and — (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.) We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation.
First, here’s Digby’s take. She wasn’t pleased.
Well, I think at least one thing is clear. Robert Gibbs wasn’t freelancing with his similar comments.
It’s not that rank and file Democrats are congenitally unable to celebrate all the wonderful accomplishments of the Obama administration. It’s that, like Americans everywhere, they are hurting financially and don’t have good feelings about the future. The Republicans are fired up and believe that they can take action to change it by voting for teabaggers. But Dems are stuck in a holding pattern waiting for things to hopefully turn around. They have nowhere to focus their angst so they tune out. In those comments, the president is, at best, ignoring their real issue and saying they don’t know how good they have it. It’s not helpful.
Come on, folks. It’s a campaign fundraiser. It’s a place where you rouse whichever troops are in the audience and reel off a list of your accomplishments, not one where you hang your head and talk about your failures. It’s a place where you tell a few jokes — like acknowledging the fact that liberals have been devotees of the circular firing squad for as long as liberals have existed. It’s lighthearted after-dinner stuff, not an address to the nation.
I appreciate the need to fire up a fundraiser, but you don’t do it at your own party’s expense. The President could have simply touted his accomplishments. He could have even criticized Republicans. But he didn’t. Instead he suggested that his Democratic critics have a genetic disease, and that’s why they were so upset that the President caved, from the beginning, on his promise to push for a public option.
And even that wouldn’t have been as big a deal had this not been, as Digby notes, part of a larger pattern in which the White House routinely takes jabs at the Democratic base.
But even that isn’t the biggest problem with the President’s comments. What’s most disturbing, I’d submit, is what Suburban Guerrilla notes, albeit a tad more harshly than I’d have done:
I would say that this president’s penchant for sarcastic, not-quite-whiny, “why oh why aren’t they as smart as me” insider riffs is one of his least attractive qualities. Psst, Mr. President? You’re not doing standup — you’re the president of the United States, and the head of the Democratic party. This isn’t the high school lunchroom.
And those of us left living on a wing and prayer thanks to your “half full”, half-assed economic policies just don’t have a sense of humor about our continuing plight. I know it’s been a long time since your mom got food stamps, but you might want to give that empathy thing some thought.
There’s an arrogance to the President’s comments, and an inability to recognize how much he is a part of the problem. What’s increasingly disturbing is that the President just doesn’t seem to get why so many Democrats are so disappointed in him. He seems to believe the apologists’ standard line that we’re all naive purists who simply don’t understand politics.
The comments add fuel to a greater, and growing, concern about the President: that he honestly thinks he’s been doing a great job, and that he honestly thinks his approach to problem solving and legislating – compromise first, then reach any deal you can – is an appropriate way to run a country. Inside the White House they call this success. Outside, it’s perceived by a growing number of Democrats and Independents as weakness.