Biden, speaking at a frozen yogurt plant in New Hampshire, said he wanted to “remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This President has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises."The only nitpick I have with the Vice President is that he, by implication, is saying the people screaming the loudest on the left and dumping on the president is the base, which I don't think is completely true. The whiners are certainly part of the base, but while super-loud, they do not represent the base by and large.
With that caveat in place, however, I understand what Biden was saying, and he is spot on. The left ideologues and the leftier-than-thou types in the blogosphere and the media has been assaulting President Obama for over a year. For them, every accomplishment of this president is tarred and feathered with condemnation because nothing is ever good enough. There is a propensity to belittle the huge amount of progress being made by asserting that the president is not waving a magic wand and making everything perfect.
The mainstream left blogosphere and commentators have made little attempts to understand or explain to their audiences the unprecedented challenges and outright hostilities facing this President. The people who Robert Gibbs identified as the "professional left" have made close to zero sense while they opposed progressive, sensible legislation on ideological grounds rather to explain the benefits of those reforms to their audiences. This holds true in health care reform that is saving people's lives and lowering premiums in parts of the country right now and will be helping 32 million additional Americans gain coverage while eliminating discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, which the ideological purists on the left hated so much due to the lack of a public option that they tried to kill more generous subsidies for poor and middle class Americans. It also holds true in Wall Street reform that institutes a strong and independent consumer protection agency with no additional cost to taxpayers, regulates derivatives and gives regulators the power to liquidate financial institutions that are a threat to the system, which the same "professional left" saw as a pinata to whack with the rhetorical baseball bats of "it doesn't nationalize banks" or "it doesn't end too big to fail because it doesn't set a limit on the size of banks."
Those are not the only ones. An anti-intellectual tide, somewhat paralleling that on the right, has risen on the left that cares more about a narrative they want to set about Obama not being progressive enough than the facts at hand. We are bombarded with the shortcomings of this administration and the things that remain undone so far, but we are hardly ever reminded by the mouthpieces of the ideological purists the more than significant progressive accomplishments achieved in the face of unified, hostile opposition in less than two years - be it student loan reform, strengthening equal pay for women, extending children's health insurance, rescuing the American auto industry and pulling the economy from the brink of a disaster while making the largest investments in American infrastructure since Ike, credit card reform, the Matthew Sheppard hate crimes law protecting LGBT Americans, or investing in community banks and small businesses.
If you haven't watched Rachel Maddow's interview with the Vice President, I urge you to do so (or read the transcript). He talks about what the administration and the Democratic Congress has done, and he reminds progressives to get in gear. He tells us what we need to hear: don't compare the Democrats and President Obama to the almighty, compare them to the alternative.
Of course, what was the response of the people who the Vice President urged to stop their whining? They ran to the closest microphone they could find to whine some more.
“It’s idiotic is what it is,” says Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, one of Obama’s most pointed critics on the left. “If Democrats, with the White House and Congressional super-majorities, had delivered on what they had promised, and if people had jobs, no one would be whining. They have reaped what they sowed. They haven’t delivered on what they’ve promised — and instead of making the case as to why they would do if they are reelected, they are insulting people.This right here is the problem. An intellectually dishonest claim that the Democrats have a "super majority" (Democrats have 57 votes in the Senate, a "supermajority" requires 60 at least), and an even more intellectually dishonest claim that the administration hasn't delivered (I just showed above what they have delivered). This idea that if damage being done to the country over a decade (actually, over three if we're talking about deregulation) isn't fixed in less than two years, the whole thing is a failure is exactly what is wrong with the leftier-than-thou crowd, and it's probably what makes them whine so loudly. Insulting people, Markos? At least have some respect for Americans who pay attention, and stop insulting our intelligence.
Adam Green, the claw-on-chalkboard manifestation of the professional left weighed in, too:
“The ‘professional left’ is busting our butt to mobilize progressive voters in 2010, picking up the ball that this White House dropped when they refused to fight for the overwhelmingly popular public option, refused to break up the big banks, and demobilized Obama voters who expected this President to at least fight for big change,” he told POLITICO.See what I mean? This is exactly what I talked about above. If we can't get our pony, everything we did get sucked, and what we got cannot count as "big change." Bullshit, Adam. We have gotten big change. That they didn't fit your pony and got passed despite your jumping up and down and screaming is a sorry excuse to refuse to acknowledge it. And if you honestly don't think that the most significant regulation of Wall Street since the 1930s and the passage of health care reform that seven presidents have tried and failed on (not to mention all the other reforms) is big change, you need a refresher course in political and policy reforms.
Oh, and by the way, this is the same Adam Green that still has his organization bank with one of the big banks, Bank of America, despite asking his flock to join the "move your money" campaign to move their money from big banks to small community banks and credit unions.
The whining phenomenon on the left blogosphere and commentating media figures has been almost an epidemic. Not to mention that whining doesn't help any of the causes they purportedly advocate for. It has no effect other than to draw attention to themselves and to whip their own flock into demoralization. A refusal to recognize progress made will not help us make further progress. Bashing progressive allies in this administration and the Democratic Congress will not help better legislation get passed. But it will, perhaps, advance some book deals and careers on the whiny leftier-than-thou crowd. In the mean time, the rest of us have an election to win so that we can make more progress despite the whining, and also so that we can keep the absolute crazies on the right from taking over.