Monday, January 10, 2011

Martha Kumar on Robert Gibbs: One Could Have Imagined Something Better

"One could have imagined something different, and better."

Martha Kumar, Towson University professor of political science, commenting on the departure of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, and the missed opportunity of the Obama administration in crafting a new, healthier, better relationship between the White House and the press.  Kumar is cited in an article on Gibbs by Dan Froomkin at Huffington Post today.

And in my view, Kumar's summary--"one could have imagined something different, and better"--perfectly captures the malaise of many of us who strongly supported Mr. Obama in the last presidential election.  What we've gotten is so far from what we imagined we'd get that we're stunned by the huge disparity between vision and actualization.

What we've gotten is a spectacular failure of imagination at precisely the point in the history of our democratic society in which failure of imagination is most dangerous to our future.  What we've gotten is a continuation of a status quo that has brought us to the brink of disaster as a nation.

And Gibbs has clearly been a part of the problem (as I noted last August, he continuously angered Obama's many gay supporters by his condescending, dismissive approach to reporters' questions about gay issues).  But as Froomkin rightly notes, Gibbs was only doing what Mr. Obama wanted him to do.  And it was the president who chose Gibbs to be press secretary.

So that for many of us who supported Obama and also happen to be gay, it became apparent very quickly that the condescension and dismissive approach to questions about gay issues and gay rights were emanating directly from the president.  And so we have been spectacularly disenchanted by the failure of imagination in this administration, and above all, by the failure to offer viable, carefully considered alternatives to a status quo that is threatening the future of our democratic society.

The imagination on which our future depends will require the willingness of some leader with real power in her or his hands to listen, at last, to all those voices that have historically been excluded from the halls of beltway power--to the economically disenfranchised, to women, to working people, to people of color, to gay and lesbian human beings, to people outside the beltway echo-chamber, to other minority groups in our society., etc.  And not  predominantly to power-mongering white males who function as connection points to Wall Street, corporate executives, and the banking community.

No comments: