Robert Gibbs' announcement today that he will be stepping down from the White House podium to take an advisory role offers an opportunity for the White House to repair relationships with the community Gibbs derided as "the professional left" as the president gets ready for a reelection campaign that will need to renew excitement among progressives even as it woos more centrist voters.
Gibbs "will continue to shape the dialogue politically for many years to come," Obama told The New York Times in an interview after Gibbs said he'd be departing in early February.
"We've been on this ride together since I won my Senate primary in 2004," Obama said. "He's had a six-year stretch now where basically he's been going 24/7 with relatively modest pay. I think it's natural for someone like Robert to want to step back for a second to reflect, retool and that, as a consequence, brings about both challenges and opportunities for the White House."
The first opportunity is to bury the hatchet with a community of people that has felt itself repeatedly and needlessly insulted by Gibbs and also by former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
While it is absolutely the case that liberals continue to be Obama's core base of support -- every poll shows them to be his most ardent backers -- the professional left, as it were, can be critical during a campaign cycle, as its members provide ground troops and an online megaphone for favored candidates.