Gibbs returns to press podium after battle with ‘professional left’
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, under fire from
liberals, made it clear Wednesday he has no plans to resign.
Gibbs returned to the daily White House briefing on
Wednesday a day after his criticism of the “professional left” created a
In an interview with The Hill, Gibbs said some on the left
would not be satisfied until the U.S. had “Canadian healthcare and we’ve
eliminated the Pentagon.” He said people who say President Obama is like George
Bush “ought to be drug tested.”
Gibbs, who was said to be suffering from a cold, did not appear at the
White House daily briefing on Tuesday as he was bashed in the liberal
blogosphere and on television.
He emerged Wednesday with a sore throat, but answered a
question about whether he would resign by saying: “I don’t plan on leaving.”
“And there’s no truth to the rumor that I’ve added an
inflatable exit to my office,” he joked.
For the second day, Gibbs refused to back off the substance
of his comments: frustration he feels toward liberal commentators for their
criticisms of President Obama. Gibbs did repeat his regret for how he phrased
the answers in the interview, blaming his steady diet of cable news shows.
“I watch a lot of cable TV, and you don’t have to watch long
to get frustrated by some of what’s said,” Gibbs said Wednesday. “And I think
that’s what that answer was borne out of.”
Many of the questions at Wednesday’s briefing touched on the White House’s relationship with the left and Gibbs’s comments.
Gibbs said that he has not spoken with the president about
the matter, and he has not reached out to any members of the “professional
He also apparently is skipping the liberal cable shows that
drew his ire in the first place, saying that instead of watching Keith
Olbermann’s criticism of him Tuesday night, he spent his time “watching my
BlackBerry for primary returns and watching the Braves game on the Internet.”
A number of liberal TV and radio hosts continued to process
Gibbs’s comments on Wednesday, questioning everything from his motives to what
effect his remarks could have on Democratic turn-out in the midterm elections.
And despite several efforts at levity by the embattled press
secretary at Wednesday’s briefing, a number of high-profile liberal
commentators warned that Gibb’s remarks could harm liberal enthusiasm in the
“It went over like a lead balloon — particularly in August, when all the members of Congress are back in their home states, campaigning,
trying to whip up enthusiasm,” Jane Hamsher, founder of the liberal blog
Firedoglake.com, told ABC News’s “Top Line.” “We’re seeing tremendous demoralization
amongst the sort of Democratic base.”
Hamsher added: “Having the White House and [Gibbs] basically
call the progressives a big bunch of babies who need to grow up, you know, when
their concerns are very valid, probably wasn’t the sharpest political move.”
Gibbs disputed the idea that liberals would stay home on
Election Day out of anger with him.
“I don’t think they will [stay home], because I think what’s
at stake in November is too important to do that,” he said.
When asked if he had put his foot in his mouth or
intentionally teed off on liberal commentators, Gibbs opened his mouth to show
reporters at the briefing that there was no foot in there.
“I think I have both my feet firmly planted on the floor and
nothing in my mouth to speak of,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs did not dispute deputy press secretary Bill Burton’s
remark on Tuesday that Gibbs “answered honestly.”
“I think many of you all have heard frustration voiced in
here and around,” Gibbs said. “I doubt I said anything that you haven’t already
— Jordan Fabian contributed to this post.
This post was updated at 2:04 p.m. and 3:52 p.m.