President Barack Obama had some friendly advice on Monday for liberal Democrats who say he has not achieved everything on their wish lists — quit complaining.
Making a whirlwind fund-raising tour of Philadelphia to rally support for his embattled Democrats before U.S. congressional elections in November, Obama offered a hint of his exasperation with parts of the liberal base that helped sweep him to power in the 2008 election.
“When I hear Democrats griping and groaning and saying … ‘the health care plan didn’t have a public option’, and … ‘the financial reform — there was a provision here that I think we should have gotten better’, or, ‘you know what, yes, you ended the war in Iraq, the combat mission there, but you haven’t completely finished the Afghan war yet’, this or that or the other, I say ‘folks, wake up’, ” Obama told wealthy donors at a Democratic National Committee dinner.
The bulk of Obama’s remarks – he headlined three events in a single evening — were devoted to trying to fire up supporters just six weeks before midterm elections where the country’s economic woes threaten Democrats’ hold on Congress.
The visit to Pennsylvania, a key swing state, followed a townhall-style meeting in Washington where audience members voiced anger and disappointment at his administration over its handling of high unemployment and a stumbling economy.
Speaking to a friendlier crowd in Philadelphia, Obama defended his agenda and lambasted Republicans, calling them the party of “no, we can’t” and saying they would seek to reinstate failed Bush-era policies if they regained control of Congress.
But he also chided those on the left who have grown impatient with his sometimes middle-ground approach.
“This is not some academic exercise,” Obama said. “As Joe Biden put it, don’t compare us to the Almighty; compare us to the alternative,” he said to laughter.
While conservatives have been Obama’s loudest critics, with some even branding him a socialist, liberal commentators have become more vocal in complaining he has not fought hard enough for some of their priorities.
They say he was wrong to drop a government-run insurance option from his landmark healthcare overhaul, should have gone further in punishing Wall Street and has not done enough to end the wars, reform immigration, battle climate change and close the military jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs last month urged the “professional left” to give Obama credit for what he has accomplished, and some mainstream Democrats have appealed to them to cut Obama some slack for the sake of party unity.
“This is what change looks like,” Obama said in Philadelphia. “In a big, messy democracy like ours, a country that’s huge and diverse, you know, it’s not smooth. But it’s worthwhile.”
(Editing by Philip Barbara)
Source: Reuters US Online Report Politics News
Additional links from Reuters US Online Report Politics News
Reuters services for news professionals
Reuters Pictures – Search, select, buy
Share your news photos and videos with Reuters and Yahoo!
Reuters Reporter Blogs
Mochila insert follows…