Don't Make Me Do It

By now, we are all familiar with the almost certainly apocryphal story about FDR -- ""I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." And indeed, President Obama himself said "hold me accountable" just a few weeks ago in a video to Netroots Nation.

Obviously, Robert Gibbs disagrees with this approach. Matt Yglesias writes:

[W]e’re seeing a serious confusion here on the role of political activists in the system. [. . . I]t’s not the job of activists to be “satisfied” with compromises premised on the current boundaries of political feasibility.

Whatever your view of how the Obama Administration and Dems have performed, it seems to me that Yglesias' point is inarguable - surely it is not the role of activists to be satisfied with half loaves or crumbs. The role of the activist is, in the words of Frederick Douglass, to "agitate, agitate, agitate." On this issue, I think the wisdom of Frederick Douglass exceeds that of Robert Gibbs.

Speaking for me only

< Meanwhile, Back At The White House . . . | Gibbs Clarifies: Kumbaya >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    But the country is in huge crisis (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:44:59 AM EST
    And the activists have answers and internet, never have they been such a pain and constantly jacking with the smooth bowel movements of a disconnected beltway.  The beltway hasn't suffered like this since the 60's and maybe Nixon.  Suffering peasants get on the internet seeking real answers and boom, one computer creates an "incident" and David Axelrod cries :)

    Seems to me (5.00 / 5) (#6)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:45:08 AM EST
    It shouldn't be just "activists" - the media should always be questioning, and every voter should too.  We can always do better and politicians should always be under the microscope.

    But that makes it hard work (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:46:06 AM EST
    You might have to confront something :) (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:46:31 AM EST
    Robert Gibbs can just, well, bite me. (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:49:59 AM EST
    Seriously.  And I have to say that I am pretty tired of these little hissy fits, tired of people getting all huffy and offended because we want them to do a better job.  Tired of feeling that, even though Yglesias says he knows what activists are supposed to do, he can still write this:

    As I said during the health care debate, it's not the job of the President of the United States to stand up for a pure ideological vision--his job is to cut compromises to implement policies that improve on the status quo.

    with a straight face.

    Really?  Maybe he could inform us how much the status quo has improved with this president's compromises.  Or not - someone who admits to being really excited about the Affordable Care Act has a different status quo than I do.  Or most people do.

    Matt thinks Gibbs and Obama are confused?  Really?  This isn't confusion we are seeing and hearing; it is the petty and indignant hissy fit of people who would prefer to consign to a void of indifference anything other than compliant and servile gratitude.

    Honest to God, if we have to get up every day and put on our Big Girl and Big Boy pants and deal with life as it is - with unemployment, still-crappy health care, erosion of our privacy rights, the cover-up of torture, rising costs, crumbling infrastructure, war-war-war - why shouldn't they - why aren't they?

    Is it too hard?  Not as much fun as they thought?  Did they really think the media-darling thing was a lifetime membership, never to be revoked?

    Keep talking, Gibbs.  Keep patting us on the head when we're good and putting us in the corner and calling us names when we're not.  Keep talking down to us.  Make sure all your little toadies extol the virtues of living the Stepford Life.  

    Meanwhile, he can just bite me.

    Thinking....thinking.... (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:05:23 PM EST
    trying to remember Tony Snow or Ari Fleisher or Dana Perino saying anything like that about the righty activists.....still thinking...

    I was more analytical early this morning (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 02:00:50 PM EST
    But then again I could afford to be, literally afford to be.  The Grandgirls were here for 24 hours.  My husband and I couldn't help noticing on Sunday that our daughter is getting burnt around the edges.  She has two toddler girls, struggling with ironing out divorce that her parents ended up having to pay for and she feels guilty, needing help with bills...more guilt, working for minimum wage (hopeless yet still demanding), trying to focus on starting school soon (impossible).  We decided she needed 24 hours just to sleep and eat and reset.  I will do this as often as it takes and I can BUT.

    She just left, she looks better, she has a smile on her.....but I can't tell her when things on her own are going to feel or look any less hopeless or helpless.  Now I am embarassed by this attack on "the professional left".  Could the people in the White House at this time really have their heads buried any futher up their own rearends?  Is it a bunch of professional activists making them miserable or is the real world that they cannot lower themselves to deal with?  Some people are so screwed right now, but it is a bunch of jerk activists making life tough for them.

    Whadda buncha maroons. (4.25 / 4) (#12)
    by scribe on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:34:21 AM EST
    I should be grateful to you?  For what?

    What have you done for me lately, Barack?

    Have you given me, or millions like me, a job?

    Have you given me, or millions like me, a clear philosophy of operating government to benefit me or millions like me, rather than your bankster buddies?

    Have you ended the wars?

    Have you ended the torture?

    Have you ended the lies?

    Have you demanded and forced accountability - not just in the form of showcase hangdog "I'm sorry" crap that any eighth-grade (or grade-school) teacher would see through, but in the form of actual people - elite people who are responsible for this catastrophe, not the schlubs at the bottom - going to jail and being made broke and having their lives ruined for the wrongs they've done?

    No.  You haven't done squat for me or millions like me.

    It takes some balls to want me to be grateful for that kind of sh*t dumped on my head and, to be quite clear, you ain't getting it.  

    No money from me, no GOTV time from me, and no vote from me.  I'm not happy with your performance in office and I surely won't be lining up at the polls to ratify it.

    BTW - what the h*ll do you do in the White House all day, anyway?  You sure as h*ll can't get a single nominee who'd have passed for a Rockefeller Republican, let alone a Democrat, into office, you don't name people and you surely don't have a big enough set to recess appoint anyone.  Are you watching reruns of Sportscenter or something, like the rest of us who are unemployed or underemployed?

    I guess I should be grateful, though.  John McCain wasn't elected President, so Sarah Palin never got the chance to go all Lucrezia Borgia on him and take over.  Not that she and her version of the American Idiot tour would be getting any more press than she already is.

    For a supposedly bright guy, Barack, one who graduated Columbia and Harvard Law and wrote a couple books, you sure are turning out to look pretty f'g useless.

    heh (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:27:31 AM EST
    the wisdom of Frederick Douglass left little toe exceeds that of Robert Gibbs.

    Ouch. Douglass as a model for Obama (none / 0) (#2)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:35:51 AM EST
    does have its problems.  For all of his greatness, Douglass also reneged on his promises to political women, helping to split reformers for decades afterward.

    And Susan B. Anthony. (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:43:06 AM EST
    Didn't shut up. She, wait for it, kept agitating.

    There's the point.


    Btw, you may have guessed (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:56:42 AM EST
    that you have raised one of my fave examples for why making heroes of humans is fraught with peril.  We can admire Douglass (and Anthony and others) for their greatness -- for their instances of heroism -- while we forgive, but never forget, their flaws.

    But we never learn.  See: 2008.  

    I suppose it's your "pols will be pols" meme, in a way . . . but it's also "fan clubz will be fan clubz."


    An an excellent point, it is (none / 0) (#9)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:49:11 AM EST
    although let us hope that we also don't have to die without seeing our goals realized, as did Anthony, Cady Stanton, Stone, and millions of others.

    "For our daughters' daughters" was so wonderfully altruistic of them.  But it s*cked for them . . . while Douglass voted for decades.


    Administration CW is that (none / 0) (#3)
    by MO Blue on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:37:25 AM EST
    activists should not only be "satisfied" with compromises marketed using the premise of political feasibility, they should be grateful and appreciative.

    "And from Gibbs's perspective, and the White House perspective, they ought to be able to catch a break from people who, in their view, should be grateful and appreciative." link

    If anything... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 10:50:24 AM EST
    Gibbs and the rest of the admin. should be the ones showing some gratitude...last I checked they make very nice salaries, especially in this economy.

    Or if it's all too much for 'em, grow a pair and pull a Steven Slater.