Apparently bullshit doesn’t bother other people because I posted a rant about this on Facebook and only one person commented, which may or not be indicative of what happens, or doesn’t, on this social network. Maybe the smoke coming out of my ears clouded their view. Maybe everyone’s there to be seen but not to hear – unless, of course, you leave a comment on their post.
My little journey began with a link provided by a friend and fellow blogger I deeply respect, and for whom I have genuine affection, to a video by The Young Turks called Obama: Problem with You Progressives. Cenk Uygur made a big theatrical producation out of a statement that Obama allegedly made to Bernie Sanders last spring while holding up a glass of water: "That's the problem with you progressives. You see this as half-empty." As he kept emphasizing the word “you” in “you progressives,” as if the president had thumped Bernie Sander’s chest and stuck his nose in the senator’s face, the ever-faithful red flags began to wave.
I journeyed over to the Huffington Post to see the source of Uygur’s angst. The title Republican Opposition To Elizabeth Warren Allows White House To Duck Uncomfortable Questions seemed innocuous enough. Maybe the Young Turk had just emphasized the wrong syllable or maybe he was being dramatic to compensate for his otherwise dull presentation. Major miscall on my part.
The entire article is devoted to how Obama publicly supported Warren but “was never committed to nominating her as head of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, people familiar with the internal decision-making process said.” Fairly early in his piece, Shahien Nasiripour writes this titillating little tid-bit:
. . . . Sources said an anecdote about a 2010 meeting provides clues to Obama’s thinking.
Last summer, during a White House meeting with first-term Senate Democrats, Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, asked Obama whether he'd nominate Warren for the role.
Obama held up a half-full glass of water and told him: "That's the problem with you progressives. You see this as half-empty."
The alleged quote went viral with Leftbaggers, including FDL and Daily Kos among many, many others. None of them bothered to mention anything else in the article, such as the fact that Harry Reid was a strong supporter of Warren’s appointment or that the White House said that Chief of Staff William Daley didn’t oppose the nomination, although Nasiripour waffles on the latter’s position. So, what's the problem?
First of all the writer does not name a single source or a reference which reported it at the time. Second, he is remiss in not putting the statement in its full context. What led up to this? What were the words before and after this statement? What had Sanders said? What kind of occasion was it? It’s just sort of hanging out there unconnected to anything else in the article. Was it just tossed out there to give the Leftbaggers something to rile about - as if they need any encouragement.
This former professional researcher spent nearly an hour back tracking this story, trying to find out where it originated. All sources pointed to this one HuffPost piece which failed to name a source.
We on the left are always criticizing the right-wing media for not documenting their sources, taking statements out of context and leaving out pertinent information. What a bunch of hypocrites.
If anyone can come up with a factual, authoritative source from the time when it happened and provide the full context, I will gladly eat crow on Facebook in front of God and everyone else. You know what else, though? If he in fact did say it, I’m going to raise my glass to him and shout, "Hear. Hear."