Greenwald summarizes Gibbs' rant:
(1) The Professional Left are totally irrelevant losers who speak for absolutely nobody, and certainly nobody in Real America who matters; but (2) they're ruining everything for the White House!!! And: if you criticize the President, it's only because you're such a rabid extremist that you harbor a secret desire to eliminate the Pentagon -- that's how anti-American you are! You're such a Far Left extremist that Dennis Kucinich isn't far enough Left for you, you subversive, drug-using hippies! You're so far to the Left that you want to turn the U.S. into Canada. As David Frum put it today: "More proof of my longtime thesis, Repub pols fear the GOP base; Dem pols hate the Dem base."
Yglesias somewhat sympathizes with the press secretary:
But you don’t improve your relationship with same-team ideological activists by attacking them in red-baiting terms. What’s more, we’re seeing a serious confusion here on the role of political activists in the system. As I said during the health care debate, it’s not the job of the President of the United States to stand up for a pure ideological visionhis job is to cut compromises to implement policies that improve on the status quo. But by the same token, it’s not the job of activists to be “satisfied” with compromises premised on the current boundaries of political feasibility.
Gibbs backpedals furiously. I suspect Obama's actual view is that pressure from his base - or just from those who voted for him on the basis if some unfulfilled promises - is a good thing. I see no contradiction, for example, in supporting this presidency as the best chance we've got on many fronts while severely criticizing its incoherence and cowardice on civil rights.