There is a lot of justifiably angry talk today about John Harwoods's report on last night's NBC Nightly News about the march for gay rights, in which he was asked if the White House was worried about "the left as a whole" and concerns they have that the White House isn't doing the things the left expected them to do. He replied:
Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the Internet left fringe.
For a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn't take this opposition, one adviser told me those bloggers need to take off the pajamas, get dressed, and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.
Glenn Greenwald documents all the cases of administration and Democratic officials saying similar things about LGBT concerns. And Harwood has now clarified that the official wasn't speaking specifically about gay issues, but rather about the left in general.The White House has vociferously disavowed any knowledge of this quote or the sentiment behind it.
Obviously, I have no way of knowing if any of this is true and nobody else does either. That's the beauty of anonymous sourcing, right? And that leads me to believe that while it's certainly possible that an administration official said this to him about the left, it's also entirely possible that Harwood made it up. After all, he has a habit of saying exactly the same thing in his own voice all the time. I've been documenting it for years. Here's an example:
SCARBOROUGH: John Harwood, our second question of the day, is it possible that the left could fall out of love with Obama if he fades on FISA, if he fades on interrogating, and if he seems siding with Cheney-Bush and the NSA on wiretapping?...Here's another one:
HARWOOD: No, it is not a problem for Barack Obama. This is one of those things that sounds like a problem, but if you really look at it, getting attacked from the left on national security issues is good news for Barack Obama, because it tells mainstream voters that he‘s not out on the far extreme and helps him counteract the attacks he‘s getting from John McCain and the Republicans.
Harwood: Elizabeth, this is going to be a huge problem when he tries to site these prisoners. Does that mean that the president didn't make progress yesterday, politically speaking, in terms of laying out this case? Is it simply too early to judge that?
Bumiller: I think he's getting a lot of push back, from, not only from, well he's getting hit from both sides, from the left and from the right. He's getting hit from the right, of course, from people like Cheney and from the congressional districts, and from the left because he's now saying that there are some of these detainees who cannot be tried because of lack of evidence or because of tainted evidence.
Harwood: I suspect he doesn't mind getting hit from the left as much as he does from the right.
Harwood spouts this line on a regular basis as a pundit. In fact he's so predictable that I know to look for it every time I see him on one of the gasbag shows.
It's possible that a White House official did say it; I certainly wouldn't put it past them. But I would guess that there's an equal chance that if he or she did, it's because the official watches Harwood saying it on TV every other week and was currying favor with him. After all, there is no villager more contemptuous of the left than John Harwood.