Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gibbs' fibs

I'm not going to waste your time going over Robert Gibbs' "petulant, self-pitying outburst" about how :sniffle: those mean ol' lefty meanies are so mean; I've no doubt you've heard all about it.

Well, except to note that the whole thing reminded me of some cliché guy in a bar whining that his wife doesn't understaaand him.

Well, and except to say I told you so: These people are not on our side and despite their bogus claims to the contrary, they are not looking for people to "let us know when you believe we are screwing up" but for unquestioning foot soldiers.

Well, and - okay, okay, I will waste a little of your time on three particulars of what he said.

First was his claim that we
will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.
Leaving aside the fact that contrary to some of the pushback that "no one" has proposed eliminating the Pentagon, some have (the War Resisters League, for example, and I have given talks on nonviolent national defense), I found it interesting and quite revealing that he presented those as two equally unrealistic possibilities. Which does say something about what the White House was really thinking during the health care debate.

Second was his line that we "wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president." In that he's quite correct. It's not our job to be "satisfied." It's not our place ever to sit back and say "Okay, it's all taken care of now, nothing more to do." It's our job to keep arguing, advocating, pushing for what we believe in.

Some years ago I wrote to a friend that
[i]n a real sense, the essence of any peace [or social justice] movement is to lose - because once any victory is won, it's time to move on.
That's because our role lies in
trying to push beyond, whether in the issues we address, the tactics we employ, or even the analysis we present, where society is already willing to go.... We have an obligation to say the things that otherwise wouldn't be said, to raise the issues that otherwise wouldn't be raised, to agitate and educate in ways that otherwise wouldn't be used for agitation and education. We have an obligation to be what others aren't yet willing to be, to perpetually say "We can do better."
The day we become "satisfied" is the day our usefulness ends.

The third, however, is the big one for me:
Progressives, Gibbs said, are the liberals outside of Washington “in America,” and they are grateful for what Obama has accomplished....
I am goddam mother-fucking fed up with people trying to define me and people like me out of being "American." So "in America" all the liberals/progressives/whatevers are "grateful" to the O-crowd and therefore if you're not, you're not "in America?" Bullshit. Utter bullshit, Gibbs, and you are a scum-sucking, toad-faced maggot for even suggesting it. How dare you!

Gibbs never explained what constitutes the "professional left" and in any event I doubt he would consider me part of it - I'm hardly a professional in any sense of the term - but I am "outside of Washington" in a small town in New England and I damn well agree with that "professional left" in the critique and the criticism of Obama's flip-flops, betrayals of promises, failures on the economy, his embrace of Wall Street, his endorsements and even expansions of Shrub policies on detention, secrecy, and executive power, his escalation of the war in Afghanistan and threats of war against Iran - extending that list would be effortless.

So, Mr. Gibbs, I stand with the "professional left" and if you want to say or even imply that as a result I am not "in America," I'm going to tell you where you can take you narrow-minded buffoonery and stick it. In fact, I'm willing to do it for you.
Footnote: Of course, this business of trying to define some people out of being "American" is not new; one of my favorite examples was when in the '60s "TV Guide" sent out a promotional letter which included the line "If you know your audience you will never confuse the War Resisters League with Americans." And right now we can see it in the move by some of the knuckle-draggers to ban mosques - because, don't you know, Muslims are not really Americans, so that freedom of religion thing doesn't apply to them.

But it is a relatively new thing coming from the left half of the US political spectrum. Still, not entirely new: As a candidate, Barack Obama defended his patriotism by impugning the patriotism of others. So perhaps I should have been less taken aback by Gibbs' crude dismissal of the Americanism of political opponents, still, for some reason it really hit a nerve.

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