It scarcely seems to matter whether the Gibbs statements this week were a calculated new version of triangulation or an uncalculated declaration of attitude. Either way, the Obama White House is proving itself to be tone deaf -- and self-destructive -- in its approach to major sectors of the Democratic Party base that are to the left of this centrist president and willing to express opinions forthrightly. Are Gibbs and Obama so stuck inside their Pennsylvania Avenue bubble that they don't realize how they're helping to depress the Democratic turnout for the November election? At this point, Gibbs -- and, it must be assumed, Obama -- are choosing to show contempt for people who comprise a margin of victory in congressional and other races across the country. The White House has now riled people and organizations that have defended them from progressive critics for most of the last 18 months. If the White House is on a triangulation jag in hopes of proving how non-left the administration is, that's a dumb move that will be lost on all but a few centrist voters and certainly meaningless to Republican voters -- while damaging the prospects of some Democratic candidates who can ill afford more fracturing of the Democratic base. If the White House is merely venting its genuine ideological attitudes, the arrogance is breathtaking. Without strong support from progressives in 2008, Barack Obama would be a senator today. And if President Obama had taken progressive insights more seriously on a range of issues -- including Afghanistan, unemployment, kindness to Wall Street and off-shore oil drilling -- his presidency could have avoided some terrible historic blunders, and the Democratic Party's poll numbers would be appreciably better than the current grim figures.
-- Norman Solomon