Liberal progressives’ dissatisfaction with White House forces Democratic divide

Tension between liberal progressives and the White House ran high over the weekend when MSNBC personality Ed Schultz revealed Saturday that he had called White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs a “piece of shit,” prompting Gibbs to curse at him in return.

The incident brought two things to light. First, the most harmful rebuttals to President Obama’s health-care talking points are coming from liberal progressives. Second, the White House response to those criticisms is alienating the president’s natural base.

“I think there’s frustration that is growing,” said a senior Democratic party operative.

“I think that some of it is a feeling of what are all these compromises adding up to,” on health care, the Democrat said. “That is coupled with a feeling that [liberal progressives] are taken for granted.”

Gibbs’s response to Schultz – he reportedly cursed him out – particularly enraged some on the left.

“We’re supposed to go along for the ride and recognize their eminent wisdom, and when we don’t, we’re evil idiotic bastards who are clueless,” said one influential progressive activist. “Would you see Michael Steele or Karl Rove scream at Tea Party leaders, or scream at the conservative bloggers?”

Republicans “don’t have the same antipathy for their ideological base,” the activist said.

The mounting frustration comes at a bad time for the White House, which is trying to salvage a health-care bill after the Massachusetts Senate election results took away Democrats’ 60-seat super majority in the Senate and spooked many House Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, was expected to discuss options with her caucus this Wednesday – the day of Obama’s State of the Union speech – and possibly raise the prospect of a reconciliation package that might include a government-run “public option.”

But even liberal Democratic lawmakers did not appear to be fully embracing such a plan.

Rep. James McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat, has been a proponent of a public option, which many conservatives see as opening the door to government-run health care. A spokesman, Michael Mershon, said McGovern remains in favor of the public option.

But McGovern, he said, “has also taken great pains to say that we can’t simply ignore what happened last week in Massachusetts.”

“People are genuinely concerned about the health care bill,” Merson said.

A senior House Democratic leadership aide said that despite the sniping from progressives, “at the end of the day, we all want to pass health insurance reform.”

Yet, as the White House has tried to go on offense after Massachusetts, some of their top talking points have been thrown back at them by liberal progressives.

The White House has said Americans like the health-care bill when they find out the details, and Republicans are mere shills for insurance and drug companies.

Jon Walker, a blogger at Firedoglake.com, has been tagging the administration for weeks. On Monday, he rebutted the idea that greater knowledge of the details makes many Americans more favorable toward health-care reform, at least regarding the Senate bill.

“I have heard a dangerous mantra being repeated by the Senate bill apologists in many different forms,” Walker wrote. “The goal of the consistently uttered mantra seems to be to trick those inside the Washington bubble that the Senate health-care bill is, in fact, secretly popular, but the American people are too dumb to realize it.”

Walker said that while some measures are popular, many people “become dramatically less supportive” of the bill passed by the Senate when they learn of a mandate to buy private insurance, a “secret deal” with drug companies, the delay of benefits until 2014, and other measures.

The mandate and the deal with drug makers are the two provisions in the Senate bill that led Schultz to lambaste Gibbs on consecutive nights last week.

Schultz said Jan. 20 that many on the left see the health-care bill “a sellout to big pharma” and “nothing but a gift to the insurance industry.”

“Ed, let’s not do what we’re really good at in the Democratic party,” Gibbs said. “Let’s not get a big room, get in a big circle and fight with each other. Let’s pass health-care reform.”

Schultz persisted.

“The left-wing base of this country that supported this president does not believe that this White House fought hard enough for a public option or for a mechanism that would give direct competition to the insurance industry,” he said.

The two men went back at it on Jan. 21, prompting a testy off-air confrontation afterward, which Schultz boasted about during remarks at a progressive dinner in Minneapolis.

Gibbs said Monday that he told Schultz he was misrepresenting the health-care plan to “get people to watch his show.”

Asked if he thought the confrontation with Gibbs and criticisms from other progressives was becoming a distraction, Gibbs answered curtly by e-mail: “No.”

Watch Schultz vs Gibbs part one:

YouTube Preview Image

And here is Schultz vs Gibbs part two:

YouTube Preview Image

  • luvathescissors

    what is really funny is that so many see the tea party movement as far left. it is more centrist than anybody knows. there are more independents and modrate dems than you can imagine. shultz is a douche bag.

  • lamecherry

    I do not support profane Ed Schultz, but his minions have a point in this is not what they signed up for. Their policies are too big and expensive, but their hearts are correct in Obamacare is rewarding only the medical cartels and AARP and not helping anyone in need.

    This will not fix until the Obamalings admit Obama was a massive mistake on their being deceived by Obama. They wanted change from George Bush, not to be holding only change in their pockets.

    Ed Schultz just needs to start asking one question with his millions of other liberal followers. Ask, “Mr. Obama you stated on your website your British citizenship expired. No citizenship expires. You have spent over 2 million dollars in courts hiding your birth certificates, college loans and passports. The Constitution requires you produce these items for serving as President. Explain how your British citizenship expired as you claim by producing the above items to the US Congress.”

    If liberals would do this, this all ends, and they get Hillary Clinton in two moments, and then she will rule in Clintonesque fashion in passing Republican bills like Newt Gingrich helped the Clintons.
    Then in 2012 Americans can decide how to fix this further in a Presidential election.

    Ed Schultz is not going change the spots of Barack Obama. Obama has lied to the liberal base and the liberal base with the Black Caucus must politically remedy Mr. Obama.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Hirth/37516397 Kevin Hirth

    The problem is neither party is being represented accurately because there’s a lil’ thing called money that’s influencing just about anything and everything these guys are supposedly trying to do in D.C. There are too many politicians right now that claim to be on a side, when in reality they’re just power hungry and will obviously do and say just about anything to further their own careers and they are proving it. Whether it’s buying Supreme Court judges to sell our country to the highest bidder or a former Goldmann(who donated millions of dollars to the Obama campaign, which should tell you the big boys own BOTH sides) CEO funneling taxpayer money to his buddies through his new job the Federal Reserve. There is so much spin in this world right now due to corporately owned media because they are driven by nothing other than profits. We haven’t even begun to have honest conversations on actual issues at a national level because the truth don’t sell. Or so they say…

  • joep55truthseeker

    I’ve been listening to the left-wing comments and opinions a lot lately and it’s clear that the far-left is so wacky and they think they’re so right that they want Obama to move far left and stay there; that he should not “give ground” toward the center, and that if he does, that they should not accept that from him. These people are completely nuts!

    Only problem is, the Republicans/conservatives have the same problem with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Tea Party folks who are far right and don’t want to give ANY ground to the Democrats. (Beck is a clown; Hannity just repeats the same tired old phrases and lacks in-depth knowledge, and O’Reilly is just a former “Inside Edition” entertainer, so I don’t include those guys in any serious conversation.) Whatever happened to compromise? If that’s a nasty word to the reader, then I suggest that you are as immovable on the right as the far-lefties are on the left. That’s too bad.

    Scott Brown won a nice victory in Massachusetts, but according to some far-right folks, the Tea Party organizers in Massachusetts will pretty soon be looking for a more conservative replacement for him since he doesn’t “parrot the party line” on all their issues. That’s also too bad; he seems like a decent guy and a good “moderate” Republican who might be an excellent negotiator with the Democrats.

    I hope the extremes of each party grow up one day and learn how to work with each other, or else they’ll just continue to be ratings fodder for the cable news shows.

  • Pingback: I guess it takes one to know one - yoyo’s Diary - RedState

  • Facebook User

    Somehow I do not believe for one second the liberal base will abandon the administration when push comes to shove. They are just angry they blew their dream of transforming the US into an European welfare state.

  • vbspurs

    The irate, and profane reaction by Mr. Schultz is echoed a thousand-fold in the netroot blogs. It’s quite interesting these days, to be a fly on the wall in those vicinities.