Tales from the Trail

White House spokesman’s “professional left” comment bites back

August 10, 2010

If the White House was trying to fire up its liberal base ahead of the Nov. 2 elections, this was probably not the way to go about it.

USA/White House spokesman Robert Gibbs criticized the “professional left” for criticizing his boss, President Barack Obama, but the comment came back to bite him.

He’s talking about the various liberal cable TV talking heads and bloggers who complain the president isn’t living up to his promises to them.

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said in an interview with The Hill. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

Reaction was swift and not kind from the liberal sector. For example firedoglake.com ran a post titled “Tribalism is the Last Refuge of Political Scoundrels, Including Robert Gibbs.”

Gibbs did a bit of backtracking, saying he had made those comments “inartfully,” and telling the Huffington Post, “I watch too much cable, I admit.”

His absence at the White House briefing also got tongues wagging that perhaps he just didn’t feel up to sparring about the issue with the media. Gibbs’ deputy, Bill Burton, who took his place at the podium said he was filling in because the press secretary had a pollen-induced “sore throat and sniffles.”

And to top off the day, a congressman called for Gibbs to resign. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told the Huffington Post: “I think he’s walking over the line.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Gibbs at a briefing in July)

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