In trying to dig his way out of the ‘needs drug-testing… professional left’ hole he dug for himself this morning, Robert Gibbs showed that he doesn’t know the difference between right-wing talking points about the teacher-jobs bill and the relentless advocacy of additional stimulus being pursued by the left. In calling his own comments "inartful" Gibbs disqualified himself from further service as the President’s press secretary: artful is, like, Job One, especially when it comes to arming your allies in Congress with reasons to ask base voters to show up for the mid-terms. The president needs to fire Robert Gibbs.
"I watch too much cable, I admit," Gibbs told the Huffington Post. "Day after day it gets frustrating. Yesterday I watched as someone called legislation to prevent teacher layoffs a bailout – but I know that’s not a view held by many, nor were the views I was frustrated about."
Gibbs is attempting to distract by throwing up chaff here: calling the teacher-jobs bill a bailout isn’t something anyone on the ‘professional left’ has said. By confusing a right-wing (and/or Blue Dog) talking point with the views of Mr Obama’s most enthusiastic base voters and those who speak for them, he’s shown how twisted-up he is about Villager narrative. If Robert Gibbs can’t tell the difference between the president’s loyal critics on the left (who want him to succeed by being the president he promised he’d be when a candidate) and the right wing, then he’s lived in false-equivalency "both sides do it" Versailles too long.
He can’t tell the difference between real cable news and FOX cable ‘news,’ in other words. . . .
Or else he is inartfully trying to confuse Americans, or perhaps the President. In any event, if a press secretary had been so coldly dismissive of patriotic Americans on the right who only want what’s best for their country, Barack Obama would fire him. Let’s see how long it takes the President to realize this press secretary is well past his sell-by date.
Fire Robert Gibbs, Mr President. He’s doing you no service by complaining about the very people you ask to push you to do what’s right whenever you drop by to ask for our money, organizing, and votes. Remember "now make me do it" from FDR?
Well, I’m here to say, Mr President, you need to do this. Fire Robert Gibbs.
UPDATE: Congressman Keith Ellison agrees with me:
Ellison, an active member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Gibbs went too far. "This is not the first time that Mr. Gibbs has made untoward and inflammatory comments and I certainly hope that people in the White House don’t share his view that the left is unimportant to the president," he said. "I understand him having some loyalty to the president who employs him, but I think he’s walking over the line."
Ellison said that Gibbs’s resignation would be an appropriate response. "That’d be fair, because this isn’t the first time. And, again, people of all political shades worked very hard to help the president become the president. Why would he want to go out and deliberately insult the president’s base? And why would he confuse legitimate critique with some sort of lack of loyalty. Isn’t this what the far right does? Punishes people who are not ideologically aligned with President Bush?"
Leader of the Progressive Caucus Raul Grijalva did not go so far:
"I think before Gibbs or the White House points figures at liberals and progressives, they ought to check their own record," Grijalva told HuffPost. "The whole drug testing thing — our dissatisfaction is based on [the fact that] we haven’t met the expectations and we’re hearing that from our base, period."
Grijalva was critical of the White House for abandoning the public insurance option during the health care reform debate, and for otherwise compromising too quickly with a Republican Party uninterested in bipartisanship. Gibbs had the misfortune of having his comments published on a day in August when the House is back in session and members of Congress are easily accessible to reporters. Gibbs has since walked back his criticism of what he deemed the "professional left."
[Photo: Robert Gibbs (at laptop) with President Obama and staff aboard Airforce One, Nov. 14, 2009. (source: White House via Flickr)]