Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is Gibbs in Over His Head?

This weekend former Vice President Dick Cheney attack President Obama's policy decisions since entering office. The Vice President attacked decisions to close Guantanamo, stop waterboarding, and close down secret detention camps. These are all policy decisions with pro's and cons. As expected, current White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about these comments. Here is a partial transcript from U.S.A Today:

Question: "One quick followup: Former Vice President Cheney was on State of the Union yesterday. He had a lot -- a lot of criticism of this White House...[h]ow do you respond to those kind of allegations from the former vice president?"

Gibbs: "Well, I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy ... so they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal...

After Gibbs went on to explain his answer, another reporter asked this follow up question:

Question: "It was a really hard-hitting, kind of sarcastic, response you had. This is a former vice president of the United States. Is that the attitude? Is that the sanctioned tone for the former vice president of the United States from this White House?"{emphasis mine}

Gibbs: "Sometimes I ask forgiveness, rather than for permission ... but no, I hope my sarcasm didn't mask the seriousness of the answer ... that for seven-plus years the very perpetrators that the vice president says he's concerned about weren't brought to justice.

Mr. Gibbs responses to both of these questions are entirely fair and appropriate for a private citizen, a talk show host (such as Mr. Limbaugh), or even a Democratic politician. However, this attitude is entirely inappropriate for the White House, and the White House Press Secretary to use when describing a former Vice President of the United States. I would expect this kind of rehtoric coming from the campaign trail. Mr. Gibbs now speaks for President Obama and the White House any time he opens his mouth. To refer to the Vice President as a member of the "Republican Cabal" is not a new age of bipartisianship as President Obama has pledged.

Mr. Gibbs tries to recover by saying he has to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Again, this isn't acceptable from the voice of the White House. What happens when Mr. Gibbs makes this same type of flippant remark when refering to on of our allies? Will a foregin leader excuse this type of "sarcasm"?

President Obama promised us "Hope", "Change", "Accountablity", and "Bipartisianship". With a Press Secretary like Gibbs, the best we can do is keep hoping...


the anonymous guy said...


To anybody in the White House who would speak so disrespectfully of another U.S. government official:

"Go f*ck yourself!"

pack04 said...

So what you are saying is we really got no "CHANGE" at all.

President Bush's people did it so we can to?

I thought President Bush was evil and the devil and VP Cheney was his puppet master. Now that a President Obama person messes up you justify it using them. That does not fly.

I can't wait to see what you are going to use to justify President Obama's Special Olympics "joke".

the anonymous guy said...

I thought the Special Olympics comment was in poor taste. I'm glad the President apologized, but that doesn't excuse it.

What my comment was pointing out is the hypocrisy of Andy writing: "Again, this isn't acceptable from the voice of the White House." Maybe I missed Andy writing about how unacceptable Cheney's language was.

Cheney said stuff on the Senate floor that we can't print on this page.

Gibbs compared Cheney to a popular radio talk show host, and called him a member of the republican "cabal" which is defined as "a small group of secret plotters."

That's exactly what Cheney took pride in: secret plotting.

Andy D said...

Anon, the reason I have never commented on the Cheney story is because I hadn't heard of it before. After reading the story you linked to, I understand why, it is a pretty minor thing.

Surely you will agree that there is a difference between Vice President Cheney and Patrick Leahy getting in an argument and the Press Secretary in a formal White House briefing treating a previous Vice President without respect. After that, the Press Secretary seemed to get caught off gaurd that anyone would think his words were inappropriate. His whole job is to communicate the President's message.

the anonymous guy said...

Where's the insult? I thought you guys were proud of Rush and secrecy.

Rebecca said...

Yeah, Andy. I've been thinking the same thing lately when watching the press conferences.

Andy D said...

I will be very surprised if Gibbs is the Press Secretary for the next four years. He really seems out of his element at times.

Anon, surely you understand that the President is suppose to be held to a higher standard. The Office of the President should be above this and I think it says a lot about President Obama and Secretary Gibbs character.