A Good Night?

Some newspaper headlines (such as here) are saying yesterday was a good night for the Democrats with Tea Party members winning primaries, increasing the chances of Democratic victories in November. Maybe politically it is good for their Democratic opponents, but otherwise I cannot call it a good thing for the country when so many Americans vote for such extremist and uninformed candidates.

Democracy works best when there is an opposition party which offers a viable alternative, even if not the alternative which Democratic voters would prefer. It is a dangerous thing when the only opposition party offers an extremist alternative. At best, they fail to provide a meaningful opposition, which every governing party should have. At worst, the Tea Party candidates could actually win, which would be disastrous for the country.

Gibbs Is Right–Both On Initial Comments And In Calling His Comments Inartful

Not surprisingly, Robert Gibbs’ interview where he criticized attacks from the far left remains a major topic of discussion in the blogosphere, and remains a leading story at Memeorandum.

“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.”

Gibbs did say his comments were inartful later in the day. He does stand by his comments.

Gibbs is right on both points.

While they represent a small percentage of people, I do run into a lot of criticism of Obama from the left which extends to people saying he’s as bad as Bush. I’ve even seen some on the far left claim Obama is worse. It is understandable that many on the left will not agree with everything Obama has done. I certainly don’t. However to compare Obama to Bush really is crazy. Bush moved the country to the extreme right in many ways. Obama’s major fault is that he is not moving us back towards the center quickly enough.

It is also understandable that the far left would be dissatisfied with Obama’s ultimate goals. Obama is a centrist and ran for president as a centrist. He is not going to pursue the platform of the far left, but a center-left politician such as Obama is still a considerable improvement over a far-right politician such as George Bush. In addition, many of Obama’s critics fail to understand the limits on the power of the presidency, especially when forty-one Republicans Senators can block virtually anything and when not even all the Democratic Senators (or those caucusing with the Democrats) are all that liberal.

I totally understand Gibbs’ frustration, assuming he is seeing the same types of attacks on Obama as I often see from the left. Gibbs was also right that his comments were inartful. Sometimes it is best not to say everything you are thinking out loud.

The major problem with Gibbs’ statement is that it further alienates those on the left who are ambivalent towards Obama’s policies. Those on the far left essentially have three choices on election day: vote Democratic, vote for a third party, or stay home. We saw what happened in 2000 when many on the left voted for Nader as opposed to voting Democratic. There is already a problem with Democratic voters being far less enthusiastic about going to vote than Republicans this year. It is pointless to make this worse.