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June 19, 2011 04:58 PM UTC

Liberals Rip Obama Spokesman; Polis Defends Administration

  • by: Colorado Pols

Our friends at the Washington Post report from the liberal Netroots Nation convention in Minneapolis (once known as “YearlyKos”)–a place Obama administration communications director Dan Pfeiffer knew he had to go, and probably knew what he would get there:

Liberal activists gave White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer a chilly reception on Friday at an online political conference as he tried to defend the Obama administration’s policies on gay marriage, Afghanistan and tax cuts.

To heckling and some loud boos, Pfeiffer drove home two themes to activists attending the Netroots Nation conference: change is hard and installing a Republican in the White House would be much worse than reelecting President Obama.

Leading up to 2012, tensions have spiked considerably between Obama and liberal activists as the latter group slams the Administration’s alleged inaction on some issues, and criticize compromises made on others, such as health-care reform…

Pfeiffer contended that the administration had gotten an “historic amount of things done in the first two years” despite the “challenges” posed by a Congress that didn’t always cooperate. He pointed to the Lily Ledbetter Act, which extended the amount of time people could sue for alleged wage discrimination.

“Frankly we’re a little sick of hearing about that one,” replied moderator Kaili Joy Gray.

So, we’ve watched some of the video clips from this exchange between Pfeiffer and the Daily Kos blogger known as “Angry Mouse” that are playing widely on cable news this weekend. And there were indeed a couple of moments, like Pfeiffer’s awkward backpedaling of a 1996 questionnaire where Obama apparently indicated a broader support for marriage equality than he has acted on as President, when you can understand the interviewer’s frustration.

Other times, like the snippy response on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act above, it seemed more like a self-gratifying gripe session–trying just as hard to ignore progress Obama has made since becoming President as Pfeiffer was trying to highlight it. Which is not to say that liberals aren’t perfectly entitled to such a gripe session if they choose, since as Pfeiffer himself noted, “I also know that…without a lot of the people in this room today, Barack Obama would not be president of the United States.”

Yesterday, Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, well-qualified to opine as the first openly gay man ever elected to Congress and a regular attendee of the Netroots Nation conventions, spoke out strongly in defense of the Obama administration’s record on LGBT issues–Huffington Post:

After heated criticism of President Barack Obama on gay issues at Netroots Nation, openly gay Congressman Jared Polis defended Obama on Saturday, calling him “the best president this country has ever had on LGBT issues.”

“[Gay Americans] have never had anything close to this much of an advocate in the White House in the United States,” the Colorado Democrat told HuffPost…

Polis pointed out that the president made two major steps forward: Obama signed into law a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that barred gays from the military and announced that his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law requiring marriage to be between a man and a woman.

“We were ultimately successful [at ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell], and the president’s steadfast support of ending the policy the whole way through was very helpful in that regard,” Polis said. “I think he also deserves strong accolades for his decision not to appeal the DOMA case. That’s really a landmark decision, it’s been very rare in the annals of history.”

On a bare political level, we don’t see how Obama drawing some fire from ideological liberals is a bad thing for his re-election campaign. A dispassionate look at the progress made by the administration against extremely fierce partisan opposition really does help Obama with most liberal Democrats, as polling shows pretty clearly–there’s little to indicate that Obama faces a true threat or rebellion from his left. On the other hand, Obama can point to liberal dissatisfaction as evidence that he is not the evil socialist dictator-in-waiting that ideological right-wingers breathlessly make him out to be. And frankly, the latter is what he needs more to win in 2012.

We don’t doubt the sincerity of “Angry Mouse,” but we do hope she understands this part as well.


38 thoughts on “Liberals Rip Obama Spokesman; Polis Defends Administration

  1. for running a centrist administration that doesn’t bow to the radical left like Republicans do to the Tea Party extremists.  

    Democrats have generally ignored their extremists while Republicans can’t cater to them enough.

    1. Most of what the “radical left” complains about isn’t radically left. The problem is that Obama is arguably forced to bow to the Tea Party extremists.

      Of course, I see Congress vote and think it’s a matter of the states cleaning up their own houses.

      1. is really now anyone not traditional center right. Today’s supposed “center right” is now to the right of any previous R President.  Any one of them. “Center” is many notches to the right of most of them.  And today’s litmus test right makes Goldwater, the guy who was too conservative to be elected, look like a moderate. Clinton and Obama are pretty much latter day Eisenhowers on any left/right scale. Eisenhower would never have  even been suggested for a GOP presidential run in today’s political world. Or Nixon or GHW Bush either.  Rush/Beck/Hannity et al would be non-stop hating on any of them. Bunch of commies.

        Of course Obama never ran as a lefty so the progressive angst is a little over the top, if you ask me.  What did they expect?  Sure we have reason to be disappointed but he’s guilty of no more broken campaign promises than usual and certainly is no more Republican-lite than Clinton was. In fact, by any objective measure, less so. Remember Clinton’s welfare reform, DADT and complete failure to do a thing about health care reform? Yep.  A little over the top.

        1. On the second; I think too many people got caught up with a speech they liked and made assumptions. It happens and it’s why I hate campaigns. But would Clinton have been better? McCain? Don’t know. Looking around the world I can see that there are better ways to do things, but still run into a lack of folks to do them and a lack of a House to do it with.

          I say we force Obama to be the President we want by getting the damn bills to his desk. The most important bit of health care wasn’t left out because Obama is a chicken rightie. House. Want it back, please. Anyone complaining who hasn’t been putting an insane amount of effort into the party and their own delegation is a whiny baby who should’ve spent their time at a coffee shop instead of going to this event. Bitching is easy, change is hard.

          No one should get me wrong here, I expect more from Obama and everyone else in government. But the first step to changing reality is acknowledging it. We can’t do one thing and expect everything to be every single person’s ideal. It’s like sending a check to Africa for $100,000 and being confused by the fact that children are still starving to death and being born with HIV/AIDS.

          Sigh, right?

          And no, I don’t remember Pres. Clinton extremely well. I knew him as a child, but wasn’t aware of him politically until Kosovo. My mom complains about the not-so-attempted hcr still, so I know about it, just don’t remember it. 😀 GWB was elected when I was 16 and just coming out of an obsession (it would be years until I fully emerged) with Labour’s rise to power.

          Since I didn’t see it until late, belated happy anniversary and happy Father’s Day to the old man! That’s a crazy amount of time and I adore good fathers, so happy thoughts from me to you and yours.

          1. as with Bin Laden.  He’s already moved towards the progressive side on DADT, DOMA and appears to be moving on immigration reform too. Definitely not saying we need to just be happy and cheer no matter what. But we shouldn’t be too quick to completely trash or too nasty or too black or white about it when things don’t please us so much. Let’s leave that to the Tea Partyish and the GOP.

      2. press their causes and clarify their differences with this administration.  They act as the values oriented voters who can articulate the issues that progressives care about.

        It needs to be more though than “he didn’t do enough” complaining.  Obama has faced the most virulent hostility to any changes including “2nd amendment remedies” and it is just more noise to have more hostility from the left.  

        1. I think the answer applies in both cases. But to add, I agree that voicing your opinion is important. Stamping your foot and throwing a tantrum, not so useful. Unless you’re going to be really, really loud about it. That always worked for my half sister. 🙁

          So it’s not the disagreement, but the way it’s voiced I have a problem with. Seems from your comments that we generally agree. Which means we should probably stop posting immediately. Things can only go downhill from here.

  2. by how neighbors can turn against each other, be easily manipulated, and become violent when faced with hunger, economic hardships, dead ends of dreams and loss of property.

    Now that QE2 is coming to an end, a critical test for the econoomy is at hand. Obama’s challenges, in a way, are just beginning.

    To my way of thinking, the onus doesn’t rest solely on his shoulders, however. The onus is on the banks, private sector companies, and the media. The media needs to work to build confidence, in realistic ways, in the American Public.  

    1. I believe their responsibility (not always well met) is to investigate fully and report fully.  

      Here’s what’s not written about enough — the righties blame government for everything bad, and want to shrink government until it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub.  By the same token, the private sector is our savior, the creator of all that is good.  

      So, why aren’t people railing, marching, revolting against the private sector which – at least in the banking and finance sector – has failed us miserably?  Instead, while the bankers and corporatists sit on millions (more?) in cash, we continue the unquestioning “worship” of the private sector, waiting for them to create jobs (because government is not supposed to do this).  Some day people will understand that jobs aren’t being created here because the corporatists no longer need the American worker to thrive.  

      It’s a nice bind the righties have put Obama in (because they’re not challenged) — a President can’t fix the economy, a President (government) is not supposed to create jobs, but everything that’s wrong with the U.S. economy is being laid at Obama’s feet.  Until Obama and the Dems put blame where it belongs, there is great risk that his will be a one-term Presidency.

        1. One comment, of the many, that rang true for me:

          In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the U.S. government made massive investments in science and technology, in state universities and in infant industries. It built infrastructure that was the envy of the rest of the world. Those investments triggered two generations of economic growth and put the U.S. on top of the world of technology and innovation.

          Government investing in the country has become a taboo. It is such a shame the conservative mindset has been taken over by old, rich, white men – and even more depressing that people listen to the loons!

    2. The problem is a lack of demand. Having the private sector produce more and the banks lend more will just increase supply but will not stimulate demand.

      And the private sector is investing a ton in R&D and improving their efficiencies (which is good for my company). But the long term effect of this will mean even fewer jobs to create the same goods.

      The government is hoping the private sector will fix something it is incapable of fixing.

  3. To be fair to my fellow #nn11 cohorts Dan Pfeiffer did an awful job at connecting, talking about the issues the room cared about and was really flat.  He was the wrong person to send to NN.  

  4. When true unemployment/underemployment is at 17%, that means almost everyone is struggling themselves or has a close friend or family member struggling. That trumps everything else.

    And Obama and the Dems in Congress have not focused on this issue. Yes the Repubs can stop legislation. Yes there was the initial stimulus bill. But they should have been visibly fighting for more non-stop since then.

    I think most people figure Obama and the Dems aren’t willing to fight for jobs. And that then colors their view of everything else. Yes a lot of good things have been accomplished, but when people can’t find work all those other things become insignificant.

    And jobs is not a liberal or progressive issue – everyone regardless of political persuasion wants Washington to fix the economy.

    1. by ending the wars, raising taxes and rebuilding infrastructure. We rebuild the economy by ending dependence on fossil fuels. Are you willing to go toe to toe with the tea party and say we need to raise taxes, or will you get angsty when another tax might come your way?  

          1. What I kept pushing for was for the state to have a single agency to report to instead of 61 different taxing authorities. And yes, for a competent taxing administration.

            Is it that unreasonable to expect a low overhead well run department of revenue?

              1. But I think when the overhead of collecting a tax is greater than the amount of the tax itself, yes we should push back and try to get the state to implement it efficiently.

                Keep in mind that the way a business measures a tax hit is not the money paid, but the total cost of collecting, reporting, etc.

                And I’m not complaining about any tax I pay. Sales tax is paid by my customers.  

      1. and give cover to Republican obstructionism.

        The recovery of the economy is tied to the price of gas so why are gas prices are hovering around $4/gallon even though the global economy is on the ropes?  I guess if you keep it high enough and keep the economy on the ropes these mini-Sirotas can get busy blaming Obama for the bad state of the economy while ignoring the absolute failure of Republicans to help.  I’m not saying it is a conspiracy but it certainly looks suspicious.

          1. but you have to decide whether you side with Sirota and the Republicans or Democrats.

            If you want to see the pendulum swing further to the left then you are going to have to do more than bitch about how terrible Obama and Bennet are.  That means supporting those policies that will lead to your desired objectives.  Just because ACA doesn’t have single payer today doesn’t mean it can’t be improved with additional actions.

            You label me as an excuse maker who ignores when this administration falls short of your standards.  I label you a dick who kisses the ring of the Republicans while doing their dirty work to discredit Obama from the left.  I guess it is all in how you look at it.  I would much rather support Obama even with his failings than Bachman or Romney which is what you are suggesting.  “Obama isn’t good enough to continue being president because he isn’t as progressive as I want so let’s elect a Republican until we can find the perfect Democrat.”  What a dick.

              1. about being rude.

                I know you’re going to come around and work for a Progressive ticket in 2012 and I agree with you that we need to be doing more for sustainable energy and climate change.  You have valid points but I think you go overboard with your criticisms.  Another ten pounds to the county food bank to make amends.

          2. aren’t satisfactory?  This is the core issue for Obama hating DINOs.

            I saw this documentary on John Wooden the UCLA basketball coach and he said that he didn’t use negative criticism with his players.  He tried to coach excellence out of them.

            What is instead of beating up Obama for every bad decision, you worked to elect Democrats who would support him and give him more opportunity to move left?  It is the constant criticisms and ignoring of accomplishments that seem so trite to me.

            Who knows how much better he could be in a second term with some support by the left and with some additional help in Congress.  Give him a chance to be excellent rather than just continuing to whine about what he didn’t do.  I acknowledge his shortcomings but have high hopes for continued improvement as he learns from his mistakes.  

            1. But how do we get them to change using just positive reinforcement? Somehow telling Senators Bennet and Udall “good job, you only gave Wall St 85% of what they asked for” – I don’t think that’s going to solve the problem.

    2. To suggest the economy is something policy-makers can simply wave a magic wand and make all better is giving WAY too much credit to the role government plays in business. The economic collapse had less to do with government economic policy as it did with individuals making poor purchasing decisions.

      It’s not government economic policy that ‘fixes’ the economy, it’s a cultural issue. Our culture is most concerned with getting goods and services for the lowest possible price. That way we can have as much useless crap as possible. The result is that production of those goods and services moves to countries where costs are minimized leading to fewer jobs here. As unemployment increases our fixation on low prices becomes stronger.  

      1. You’re right that it can’t fix it. But as Car 31 said above, it can get back in the business of investing in our infrastructure, our education, and our future. And if it does that, then the economy will come around.

        But as long as we stay in the mode of “I’ve got mine, screw you” and as you said focusing on getting as much cheap crap as possible – we’re hosed.

        Changing this requires leadership from Washington.

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