The debate at DU foreshadowed the Gibbs 'kerfuffle'
The recent Gibbs 'kerfuffle' has reignited the basic divergence that DU has been experiencing and discussing captured in these two threads:
These two threads were unusual in the DU context because 1) they ended up discussing broad patterns of DU in a systemic way 2) they were conducted with a suspension of DU rules and 3) Skinner entered into the discussion in an usual way.
Ironically, and the irony of the issues of the Gibbs 'kerfuffle' is almost without bounds, these threads foreshadowed the issues that came to the fore with Gibbs statement. In a way, because of its open and accessible format, DU is ground zero for the comments of the Press Secretary. It would be difficult to name a site where the issues raised were more fully engaged in a daily basis by such a large number of active posters. DU is "Soapbox Central" for those who want to engage in public discussion on issues centering on the future of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
What and who was Gibbs talking about
Going back to Gibbs statement its fair to say that if you take his words literally that there is not much to be outraged about. In the first place he is addressing people who equate Obama with Bush and in the second place he is gently ribbing them by saying they need to be tested to see what drug might have influenced such a conclusion. As mild an 'up yours' as can be delivered and by DU standards not even a slap on the wrist if it had been part of an exchange here.
The reaction of threads that certainly numbered in the high hundreds, or possibly low thousands, is out of any proportion with what was said. The charge is that it was a 'veiled' statement that was aimed at the entire progressive wing.
Obviously there are those who are so antagonized by the Obama administration that the context and truth of what he is talking to are of no real importance, that it is simply another occasion to try and demonstrate an institutional antagonism between the President and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Those that hold such a view (and those who actively organize in off site 'shadow' discussion threads so that they can coordinate organized attacks on the President and his supporters here - commonly known as members of BOG) need to read no further and can skip to the reply function (or go to the 'shadow' thread that the 'hate Obama' cabal participates in before they come to discuss with their non conspiratorial DUers - threads that number in the hundreds and have over 11,000 replies) so that you can post your "Obama hates progressives" response.
If you have read this far and are a critic of some of the policies of the President but consider yourself an open minded and loyal supporter of the Democratic Party then please bear with me because I intend to use cold hard facts to prove the following:
1) There was nothing particularly remarkable about what Gibbs said except that it was the Press Secretary who said it.
2) The division at DU is becoming less civil and more trivial (and considerably less interesting).
3) The facts show that the President is pushing forth on the general principles of the Progressive wing (even though the legislative process necessitates that even as we push forward passage requires compromise).
Who Gibbs was talking about
There was a general assumption in most of the hundreds of threads that Gibbs was talking about the entire Progressive Wing.
When it is pointed out that the premise of Gibbs' remarks has to do with those that equate Obama with Bush then the response among some has been along the lines of the following:
Oh come on now- you're smarter than that You know exactly who Gibbs is referring to- and who he and the administration meant to insult.
That's one of lamer rationalizations I've seen and quite frankly, it makes me question your credibility and the objectivity of other analysis you might post.
So no evidence can be provided that Obama/Gibbs is intending to insult the entire wing, just the smarmy condescending assertion that "damn the facts DU knows better".
Closer examination of this assertion, however, cannot convince the open and fair minded DUer that in fact Gibbs was interested in a 'broad based' attack but that he had a very specific kind of target in mind. Does it really make sense that Obama/Gibbs is interested in alienating a large broad section of the Party? Is it consistent with Obama's tenor and personality, where he is constantly avoiding such broad based attacks? Clearly the answer is no.
So who was it aimed at?
On the macro level it was aimed at the Hamsher type of 'professional blogger' who is constantly arguing that there is little difference between Obama and Bush and that Obama has sold out progressives. Hamsher was on CSPAN this morning repeating the same tired line.
So who at DU was he talking about?
He was talking about those that are working on the assumption that there is no difference between the two parties, that the corporate powers have rendered them meaningless shadow puppets that are operating and controlling the two parties. In fact that is the premise of one of the thread's referred to above, a thread that clearly stated that the rules of DU were insufficient because they gave cover to DINO's:
There is a growing number of bad Democrats (DINO's) that vote Republican. There I said it. So your rules do not deal with the problem that we have DINO's) that vote Republican. There I said it. So your rules do not deal with the problem that we have progressive Democrats vs. conservative Democrats (Republicans in Democrat clothing).
So our previous discussion is a prefect foreshadowing of the very same type of thing that Gibbs was addressing. A group of DUers consider that the President, and by extension supporters of the President not to be Democrats at all. At DU there is a daily staple of attacks not on the policy of the President but his role as a 'stooge', 'corporatist lackey', 'trojan horse' and so on. BOGgers can measure their effectiveness in irritating those in the shadows by how many "Fuck You Threads" are conducted by those that return here under the false cover of enforced civility (Fuck You FrenchieCat generates 5 google pages while Fuck you grantcart measures a paltry 4 pages). So Gibbs finally got fed up with the "Fuck You" sentiment that a very small group engages in and made a mild funny retort.
It is not the supporters of the President who are being disingenuous in framing Gibbs remarks but those that are engaged in faux outrage. Why do I say faux? Let us be completely truthful. As mentioned above there is a sustained effort by a small but well organized group of DUers to control the debate at DU.
They do not come here in open debate and enter into discussion with a free flowing exchange of facts in a community that has common respect. They secretly communicate, coordinate personal attacks and campaign for recs.
They are not, however, the sharpest knife in the drawer. Note this PM sent to me. Note that it was sent 24 hours before the thread cited above that was calling for alteration in the rules so that supporters of the President can be attacked as DINO's.
(name of former DUer redacted)
From: rhett o rick
Date: Jun-30-10 05:20 PM
Is it forboten to speak of "the other site". Or can you tell me the site that (name of former DUer redacted) posts on? Is it (name of site redacted)? I haven't seen him there. It's a shame but I think there is a very strong DLC element in DU.
The connection requested was, ironically, provided and 24 hours the remarkable thread quoted launched.
In context to these attacks on the President and his supporters at DU, the mild, and accurate response from Gibbs is clearly aimed at those who
are engaged in an organized and sustained attack on their standing as Democrats. Because of this the general give and take of DU is becoming more strident and more trivial in nature.
Who is not aimed at?
It is not aimed at fellow Democrats who sustain thoughtful, informed and effective criticisms of Administration policy. We have these at DU as well, unfortunately in the present era these are a smaller and smaller mix and the attacks on the Administration as a legitimate part of the progressive movement per se dominate the forums. As the herd is formed, conspired with and directed in shadows, the threads that deal with thoughtful discussion and criticism are overwhelmed by the strident demagogue questioning both the character of the President and the worthiness of his supporters to be identified as Democrats.
The Substance of Barack Obama
In sharp contrast to those who engage in the most over the top attacks of the President is the substance of the President himself. Rather than going into a long list of actions and legislation that will lead to long and laborious technical discussions of just how 'progressive' a particular piece of legislation is let us look at two areas: Restoring the dignity and operations of the Presidency, Pursuing a rational basis for political action, Significantly expanding the role of the Federal Government.
Restoring the dignity and orations of the Presidency
It is taken for granted just how far the President has moved the dignity and operations of the Presidency. That was at least a part of what the Nobel Prize consideration. It is a huge distinction to move from a Presidency that crosses into starting a war of aggression to a President that is committed to leaving that theater.
It is much more basic than that however. Look simply at the DOJ. The President has restored the DOJ as an independent professional arm of the law enforcement function of government (indeed some regret that he is in fact following the law and should personally run the DOJ). Contrast that to the operations of the Bush WhiteHouse that came within a hair of being indicted for politicizing the role of Federal Prosecutors.
Revisionists are trying to paint Bush as being a master of passing legislation and pushing the government around in getting its way. After "No Child" was passed Bush had no further legislative successes outside of those directly related to the response to 9/11 and the country's emotional license it gave to Bush to respond. Bush's two highest domestic legislative priorities; immigration reform and social security reform were historical flops - he could not even get his own party to even hold congressional hearings on the subjects.
The President took over during a time of systemic economic collapse. Washington Mutual had just undergone the largest bank run in world history. There was "Its a Wonderful Life" type of panic that had it continued would have brought us to 1929 economic collapse. The President restored confidence in the country and allowed the rebuilding to begin.
Pursuing a rational basis for political action
The President doesn't kick the can down the road. From Health Care, Gitmo, or the Stimulus the President does not involve in demagoguery or leak secrets to discredit people he disagrees with, another huge difference with Bush/Cheney.
Rene Descarte is quoted as "I think therefore I am" which is used as the epistomological foundation for rational thought, and by extension rational discussion. It however should include the full quote “Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum. (I doubt, therefore I think; I think therefore I am)”.
As a political leader the President has taken care not to frame political discussion in an absolutist manner that stiffles debate but to embrace the essential questioning that Descrate describes as the defining element of human reason. It is the source of irritations to some progressives that he is too open and too encouraging. Again Obama is right. We are currently facing two different approaches to public debate the Republican strategy of fear and faith as seen as in the AZ Law and the half Governor Palin, and the effort of the President to establish a mechanism for open debate. Progressives should always favor open debate. It is in open debate that our advantage of facts and reason will always win out. It is a slower more methodical approach but over a longer period of time will generate better results.
Again ironically this is where their could not be a greater contrast between the President and the current outrage on the Gibbs kerfuffle. Clearly somethings that have been said about the President that are over the top. Where the President responds by always prefacing his argument with "while there is some truth to what . . . said" those that are 'outraged' spoke in absolute tones. Their arguments would have been more convincing had they simply said, "while it is true that some on the left are engaging in irresponsible attacks the overall impact of Gibbs . . .". It is in their absolute conviction, their absolute framing, their unwillingness to concede basic principles of comity that those that are organizing in the shadows reveal that their position is weak intellectually or they wouldn't have to cling to such absolutism which is clearly not supported by the facts.
Significantly expanding the role of Fedeeral Government
In two years the President has expanded the role of the Federal Government more than all but two Presidents, FDR and Lincoln.
In the last 24 months the President has orchestrated the move of the Federal Government in 3 areas;
1) Economy - openly purchsing General Motors and Chrysler and returning them to profitability is an exercise unique to the country.
2) Health Care For the first time the federal government now has a legislated approved interest in overseeing medical care from cradle to grave.
3) Financial Markets and Consumer Protection
Lets agree that where the federal government is starting in health care and consumer protection is not where the progressive wing wants to end up. It is also a clear fact that the history of federal expansion has always started at one point and evolved to another, simply getting the federal government legal authority and responsibility is the big step.
Whether it was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EPA, the CDC or NOAA the principle or the aqency on which the Federal Government was based on was a slender thread and grew after that. Once established as under the supervision of the Federal Government Health Care and the Consumer Protection Agency will follow the growth and development of every other federal agency and in time policies that the country now considers as 'too radical' will be adopted and like every policy since Social Security, people will wonder what the fuss was in the begining.
It is clear that Gibbs comments mirror the same frustrations that have been expressed at DU. Every day threads are locked and responses deleted along the lines of Obama=Bush and that supporters of Obama are really only Republicans trying to pass off as Democrats.
In the face of an organized effort to campaign for that point of view on a systematic basis the individual supporter of the President cannot sustain much in light of such a 'professional' effort. I am satisfied if the visitor to DU is able to see a single thread that clearly puts forth the President's case.
Impossible to respond to a hundred threads I chose instead to make this systematic comprehensive response. It is clear that the herd at DU is in force to paint the President and his Press Secretary as irrational actors at war with the Progressive Wing.
A detached unemotional response tells a different story and even those that have strong policy disagreements with the President can still accept that the President is not an enemy of the progressive wing, is advancing its interests even if it doesn't meet either the scale or the pace that all progressives would like to see.
I was determined not to comment on the Gibbs kerfuffle. It quickly reached an 'iconic' status at DU. It is now in hallowed grounds and DU is not going to admit that its reaction may have been too emotional and that there was some truth to what Gibbs was saying but seeing Hamsher on CSPAN this morning with her smug "Democrats are no different than Republicans" knowing that she openly embraces Republicans to try and defeat the President got the better of my judgement.
I apologize for any spelling or syntax errors I have a full day and don't have time to review it and won't have time to respond to thoughtful comments.
If you found something reasonable in the OP and made a constructive response, let me thank you in advance.
If you found the entire thing an absolute and complete pile of excrement and said so in response, let me thank you in advance for making the point even better than I can.
If you are starting a 'fuck you grantcart' thread in the shadows I thank you in advance as I hate to see FrenchieCat get ahead of me.
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