Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Robert Gibbs Tries to Walk Away From His Criticism of Liberals

Robert Gibbs' harsh criticism of liberals has drawn fire from progressive bloggers. Now, he has attempted to clean up his comments. Gibbs released a point of clarification to Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent. Gibbs says that his comments were "inartful":
I watch too much cable, I admit. 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.

So what I may have said inartfully, let me say this way -- since coming to office in January 2009, this White House and Congress have worked tirelessly to put our country back on the right path. Most importantly, to dig our way out of a huge recession and build an economy that makes America more competitive and our middle class more secure. Some are frustrated that the change we want hasn't come fast enough for many Americans. That we all understand. . . .

In November, America will get to choose between going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess, or moving forward with the policies that are leading us out.
So we should all, me included, stop fighting each other and arguing about our differences on certain policies, and instead work together to make sure everyone knows what is at stake because we've come too far to turn back now.
My Take
Gibbs' effort to clean up his comments will probably fail for two reasons. First, this is not the first time that senior White House officials have blasted liberals unfairly. Emanuel infamously called liberals "fucking retards." David Axelrod said that liberal critics of President Obama's failure to lobby for the public option were "insane." And Gibbs himself said that Howard Dean acted "irrationally" when he urged Congress to reject the moderate healthcare compromise originally proposed by a small group of moderate Senators.

Second, while the White House has had harsh words for liberals, it has not equally condemned moderates who have blocked or watered down favorable legislation. The White House seems to target liberals for criticism, while racing to make agreements with the center. Perhaps this is what the White House feels it needs to do to get Obama reelected. But this does not make liberal criticism of the White House unprincipled or unwarranted.

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