Biden To Democratic Base: “Stop Whining”

Vice-President Biden has a message for the Democratic base --- stop complaining and just support us already.

The always outspoken Vice-President had some blunt words yesterday for the President’s critics on the left:

Vice President Joe Biden stoked a firestorm of liberal discontent with President Barack Obama on Monday – demanding that the Democratic base “stop whining” and start fighting Republicans instead of the White House.

Biden, speaking at a frozen yogurt plant in New Hampshire, said he wanted to “remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This President has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises.”

The comments echo Obama’s own recent calls to demobilized Democrats to slough off their apathy – and their disappointment in him – and gear up ahead of the midterms, when Democrats are facing devastating losses.

Biden’s comments weren’t premeditated and reflect Biden’s shoot-from-the-lip style, officials said. But that matters little to a Democratic base grown somnambulant and frustrated with the president’s willingness to accept ugly, if productive, compromises on the stimulus, Wall Street reform and health care.

Judging from the initial reaction to Biden’s remarks in Manchester, the base is plenty fired up – and ready to go.

At Biden’s throat.

One Democratic operative gasped when told of Biden’s remarks and wondered “why they would pick a fight with the base” five weeks before a midterm election that will hinge on turnout.

“It’s idiotic is what it is,” says Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, one of Obama’s most pointed critics on the left. “If Democrats, with the White House and Congressional super-majorities, had delivered on what they had promised, and if people had jobs, no one would be whining. They have reaped what they sowed. They haven’t delivered on what they’ve promised — and instead of making the case as to why they would do if they are reelected, they are insulting people.

The reaction from the rest of the lefty blogosphere is similar. Blue Texan at Firedoglake notes that Biden’s rhetoric isn’t exactly the kind of thing that motivates people like him to get out and work for the Democrats:

I know you’re obviously doing focus groups on this stuff somewhere, but I’ve got to tell you. I’m your target customer and trust me — you’re badly missing the mark.

Just so we’re clear, here are a few examples of messages that don’t appeal to me at all.

Wake up!”

Get over it.”

Get in gear, man.”

Right back at’cha. Right back at’cha.

That’s not reality.”

You know who you are.”

Yes, I do.

And none of these phrases motivate me to want to vote, canvass, give money, phone bank, blog, you know, generally take time away from putting food on my family to pull the lever for Democrats in November.

Taylor Marsh sees Democrats throwing away the one group of voters they absolutely need in November:

The White House has no other plan or case to make, but to say the Democratic base better snap to attention and “wake up.” But at least they’ve got one thing right. It isn’t an “academic exercise” and there isn’t one person who doesn’t know it. That’s simply how pissed off people are at Pres. Obama and the Democratic incompetence, which has been in full display, most recently when they ducked on middle class tax cuts.

Ask Independents how they feel, who are now the largest voting block, beating out both Democrats and Republicans, but are now leaning Right.

I’d suggest the Obama White House try a little humility, especially considering movement progressives were right about health care, the stimulus, tax cuts, DADT, Afghanistan, but also since the latest anti privacy move is basically what any Republican would do, but Mr. Obama doesn’t do humble.

It speaks volumes that Democrats don’t get the reason the base is unengaged is because, contrary to what Joe Biden has been saying, along with Robert Gibbs and even Pres. Obama, promises have not been kept.


After this latest rant from V.P. Biden I ask again, what reason are Democrats giving you to vote for them?

The entitlement and arrogance coming from the Obama White House, but also the tone deafness, smacks of political egotism.

It’s a funny thing about power. Unfortunately, Pres. Obama and the White House think the way to use it is by insulting people they absolutely need in November. Given the mood out there they better regroup and do so quickly, because the current plan is going to backfire big time.

John Aravosis agrees:

The thing is, I can’t for the life of me understand what the White House thinks it gains by continually poking the base – the people who actually vote in mid-term elections – only five weeks before the election. Are they trying to convince the rest of Democrats – you know, the people who don’t vote in mid-terms – that if they did vote, they should vote for Democrats because the people concerned about the state of the party, and the nation, are “whiners”?

The White House’s strategy here is rather puzzling. While the criticism of perfectionists on the left may be justified on some level, the idea of publicly criticizing the most energetic part of your base, which started in August with Robert Gibbs going off against the so-called “professional left,” doesn’t strike me as a smart move in an election year when one of the main reasons your party is likely to lose big is because your own supporters are disheartened and likely to stay home from the polls.

Part of what’s going on here, of course, is that we’re seeing internal Democratic Party arguments made public. Different factions of the party see disaster looming in November, and they’re already staking out positions for the inevitable blame game that will follow. The left will argue that the party lost because the Administration didn’t adhere to it’s progressive agenda. The Administration and the party apparatus will argue that progressive sniping demoralized the base and kept people home on Election Day. It’s the same argument Republicans went through after 2006 and 2008, and we’re likely to see a few heads roll before it’s resolved.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Pete says:

    If the Obama admin. had indeed delivered on what Aravosis and Kos wanted, the democrat party would cease to exist and a new party, The Communist Party, would take its place. I reckon conservatives should be glad Obama and his gang of Chicago thugs at least erred on the moderate side.

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    Basically he’s right. The far left fully live up to their characterisation as panty waisters. If you want confirmation just take a look at some of their popular sites. They are all loaded with whiners who will all go and vote Democrat on the day. I have to say Doug I find your last para slightly risible in its elevation of this minor snit into something significant when there’s a full scale civil war going on in the GOP and fairly conservative candidates nominated by party and national machines are being blown away by total nut cases.

  3. I have to say Doug I find your last para slightly risible in its elevation of this minor snit into something significant when there’s a full scale civil war going on in the GOP and fairly conservative candidates nominated by party and national machines are being blown away by total nut cases.

    Outside of Angle and McDonnell, though, those candidates are in a good position to win. Which means there won’t be much of a war in the GOP, at least not until 2012.

    On a broader point, though, I will say that when it comes to internecine battles like this there isn’t that much difference between the progressive left and the conservative right. No matter what the party does, be it the Democrats or the GOP, it will never be good enough

  4. john personna says:

    Anyone here self-identify as this “base” of which he speaks?

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    “On a broader point, though, I will say that when it comes to internecine battles like this there isn’t that much difference between the progressive left and the conservative right.”

    Sometimes Doug I think you must be suffering from short term memory loss.There seems a considerable difference to me between some blog whining on the left and the numerous attempts we’ve seen over the last two years by the hard right to remove establishment GOP candidates like Specter, Crist, Bennett, Murkowski, Castle, Lazio, et al. As far as I know there isn’t a nationwide effort in the Democratic party to unseat establishment candidates.

  6. Pete says:

    That’s because this country is center right and the establishment dems are on the fringe of political viability. Any movement further to the left by the dems will likely result in what is going to happen this November.

  7. Ben says:

    I’ve voted Democrat in the last 3 elections, but I would not consider myself a progressive, nor a part of the democratic “base”. I just always assumed that the Dems were going to be better on civil liberties. But I can’t imagine a single move Obama has made in regards to civil liberties that a Republican president would not have made, either. I don’t think that’s “whining”

  8. reid says:

    “That’s because this country is center right….” I know conservatives like to repeat things they want to be true until they’re accepted as the truth, and that one’s very debatable. Especially when the Republican party keeps moving to the right. I bet you’d find more people landing in the moderate Dem group or left these days.

  9. john personna says:

    “That’s because this country is center right….”

    I thought we killed this meme. It is illogical. A country cannot be “right” with respect to itself.

    It is only “center right” with respect to other countries, and that does not tell us that our right is suddenly more center than we thought it was.