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Steve Clemons is one of my favorite commentators on matters of foreign policy, but, as with many brilliant IR wonks, I often find his thoughts on domestic politics to be rather lacking. Case in point, his scolding of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for conceding the obvious: that the Democrats might very well lose the House in November.
Clemons fails to acknowledge that by ratcheting down expectations, Gibbs is trying to head off the PR catastrophe for the Democrats if the GOP does seize the House. If Democrats can honestly claim that this is something they anticipated, and is not, in fact, some kind of enormous, unexpected coup, then it will soften the blow a little bit, and potentially blunt some of the Republican momentum.
More to the point, the White House needs the liberal base of the Democratic Party to realize just how likely a possibility Republican control of the House actually is. If that happens, then the left’s legislative agenda could conceivably come to a dead stop for the next two years. Right now, quite a few liberal activists are disappointed with what Obama has been able to accomplish, and as a result they’ve been less than totally onboard with this election. Gibbs is telling them: Get to work, or else this could get a whole lot worse.