August 10th, 2010
02:21 PM ET
4 years ago

Gibbs walks back criticisms of 'professional left'

The White House on Tuesday walked back Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' recent statements that the 'professional left' is not giving President Obama enough credit for the administration's accomplishments.
The White House on Tuesday walked back Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' recent statements that the 'professional left' is not giving President Obama enough credit for the administration's accomplishments.

(CNN) - The White House is tamping down recent statements from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that targeted the "professional left" for not giving President Obama a sufficient amount of credit for the administration's accomplishments.

"I think what Gibbs was doing was having one conversation with one reporter and in response to questions about frustrations he answered honestly and it shouldn't be read anything more than that," spokesman Bill Burton told reporters Tuesday.

But Burton, who was filling in last minute for Gibbs at Tuesday's White House briefing, didn't deny the president himself grows frustrated at times with criticisms from liberal commentators.


"Is there ever some frustration from anyone who works in this building about the way it's being covered, sure" said Burton when asked if Gibbs' sentiments reflected those of the president. "Our focus today isn't one article in a Hill publication."

Burton's comments come a day after Gibbs expressed frustration over criticisms from some on the left that the president is all too-willing to compromise with Republicans on key pieces of legislation

"I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested," Gibbs told The Hill newspaper. "I mean, it's crazy."

"They wouldn't be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president," Gibbs added, referencing the liberal Ohio congressman who ran for president in 2004 and 2008.

Burton called Gibbs' "drug tested" comments a "light joke" and said Gibbs meant the "professional left" to mean "folks who mostly live in this town and talk on cable TV."

Liberal commentators have criticized the White House for abandoning a so-called "public option" in this year's healthcare legislation and pushing for a stimulus bill significantly smaller than that which many liberal economists said was needed. The administration has also taken heat for its at-times hazy position on same-sex marriage and what is viewed as slow movement to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy."

In a statement to the liberal Huffington Post earlier Tuesday, Gibbs called his comments inartful and said he understands "the change we want hasn't come fast enough for many."

"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," Gibbs says. "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."

As for Gibbs' absence from the White House briefing on a day when he is a focus of attention, Burton said, "The problem is that drug makers haven't found a Sudafed strong enough for Robert Gibbs."

"He's sitting upstairs…with a sore throat and the sniffles," said Burton.


Filed under: Robert Gibbs • White House
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    I just wish the media had nit-picked Bush and Cheney and their staff this much. MAYBE we wouldn't be in two unfunded wars. MAYBE the wealthy wouldn't have gotten two unfunded tax cuts.

    August 10, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. Gaylon Barrow NOT ASHAMED for the truth!!!

    This man is goofy a fitting teammate to ERKEL..

    August 10, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. Darth Vadik, CA

    Gibbs will be replaced very soon, after the hubbub dies down a little, maybe going to spend time with his family....

    August 10, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. worriedmom

    Oh brother! Gotta keep the whiney babies happy. why cant the truth just be out there. Deal with it Lefties, you are a pain the tush sometimes, well actually a lot of times.

    August 10, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Dar

    As for Gibbs' absence from the White House briefing on a day when he is a focus of attention, Burton said, "The problem is that drug makers haven't found a Sudafed strong enough for Robert Gibbs."

    "He's sitting upstairs…with a sore throat and the sniffles," said Burton.

    His sore throat is from the shoe he inserted in his mouth and the sniffles?????????? Hurts when you get your butt chewed, doesn't Gibby ol boy

    August 10, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. valwayne

    Its hard to believe that the most extreme left wing President in the history of the U.S. isn't the total darling of the crazy left. For the extreme left to be unhappy with Obama's left wing agenda they would have to be as far left as Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez.

    August 10, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    What a joke. Name one thing this administration has accomplished that wasn't a huge comprimise with the right and a giveaway to large corporations. Name one thing that helped the poor or middle class You neoclown morons display your ignorance every time you call him a socialist. Go to a socialist website and see what the real socialists say about him. Hey Rahm, keep alienating what's left of the left in this country, then we'll see who the real effing retards are in Nov. 2012. If Elizabeth Warren isn't nominated for consumer protection, we'll know who you really serve. Have a nice day!

    August 10, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Jeff from Chicago

    Gibb's is a joke!

    Fits right in.

    August 10, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Ben in Texas

    Am I a "professional leftie"? I think of myself, and all those who put Obama over the top, as progressive, and we are not happy with everything he's done. He owes us.

    He promised to close Gitmo, get out of the wars, pass single-payer health care, do away with don't-ask-don't-tell, and a bunch of other stuff. He has not lived up to those promises, and he has coddled the right wing extremists (i.e., every Repugnant in congress, along with some Democrats). He didn't pursue the jailing of Bush/Cheney and their criminal crew. He didn't rollback Bush-era anti-democratic actions like signing statements.

    Yeah, Obama is better than McSame, but only marginally. Yeah, we will vote for him again, since the alternative will be far worse. But, we will also complain loudly that he is not doing what he promised, and we will attempt to embarrass him for it. He deserves no less.

    August 10, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Michael

    We know it's hard to fight Big Money, even with the future of America at stake. (That's the real America, the one described on the Statue of Liberty and in the Declaration of Independence – not the "America" of the GOP which means the wealthy few who own everything while the rest of us do all the work & are rewarded by losing our homes when we have the temerity to need health care – we're not America in their language)
    Even so, Mr. President, we want to see your administration fight a little harder, take a few more risks, to return the dream to the middle & working class Americans – the dream pillaged and trampled by lobbyist parasites, their industry hosts, and their corrupt Washington collaborators.

    August 10, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. Greg Pottstown PA

    "Burton's comments come a day after Gibbs expressed frustration over criticisms from some on the left that the president is all too-willing to compromise with Republicans on key pieces of legislation"

    On what legislation has Obama been willing to compromise with republicans?

    The left is pissed because Obama had super majorities all around and failed to even unite his own party to get the leftist agenda passed. Times are hard for democrats as they see that they will have much less power in 2011-12 than they did and they know if they couldn't get it passed now they won't anytime soon.

    August 10, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. bj

    This is so true. I have written the President (no answer) and told him he needed some 'streetwise' folks in his cabinet to tell it like it is. Instead he has a lot of Ivy Leaguers that have no clue about us 'little people'. Obama needs some real foot solders with a lot of heart, integrity and mother wit (common sense) and of course education. There are folks around with all of that. They would put those lying Republicans in check and stand up for truth and shut those folks up. They would be the ones that might be able inform the uninformed and sway them away for media blitz and false prophets.

    Robert Gibbs is fabulous and I am certain trying to deal with nutjobs in the press room that are probably 75% racist is hard to do. First of all it will take time idiots to turn this mess around. You didn't say a word about Bush and the big expenditure of the surplus.

    Now there is a Black Man in the House and your want to do everything to bring him down. You would rather sacrifice the country than to give him his props – CNN. You give moe props to Palin than you do for him so I color you with the picnic crowd.

    August 10, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. Sarah

    "But Burton, who was filling in last minute for Gibbs at Tuesday's White House briefing, didn't deny the president himself grows frustrated at times with criticisms from liberal commentators"

    Who are you kidding? This president grows frustrated with ANY kind of criticism.

    As for him being like George Bush, yea, Gibbs, I'll give you that one. Bush was too much of an idiot to realize what the people around him were trying to do. Obama, on the other hand, knows exactly what he's doing; screwing my generation and that of my kids while still playing the Bush Bash game, all the while wanting stimulus after stimulus, not giving an inch to ANY republican idea, having health care be an added tax on Americans who can barely afford the taxes they have now, leaving the job rate at 9.6 percent when he promised it wouldn't go above 8 percent, continuing to allow illegal immagrants to come into this nation and punishing a state which is trying to do something about it, and turning up his nose and those of us who have to scrimp and save to pay our bills while he eats filet minon with Oprah and Gayle King, takes in broadway plays, and lets tax payer dollars pay for his wife and daughters over seas trip to Spain.

    Can we say hypocrite?

    August 10, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Gaylon Barrow NOT ASHAMED for the truth!!!

    What administration's accomplishments? No racial remarks here from all you Obamanites. His health plan will only benefit the welfare and the illegals. So don't give me that. While all the rest of us pay through our noses in taxes. I for one am fed up with him, you and all the other bigots in this country.

    August 10, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. hypocricnnation

    Personally, I Like Robert Gibbs. Certainly A Hell Of A Lot More Than I Like This Current White House Press Corps For Which Mr. Gibbs Has To Deal With For 5 Days Out Of The Week. This Media Environment Who Are Experts At Playing Two Ends Against The Middle To Perpetuate Ratings And Talking Points, And Fail To Get Real Answers For Real People.

    August 10, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Granger

    Gibbs is an idiot!

    August 10, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Obama=Trickle Up Poverty

    That's because Obama has No accomplishments, unless you consider spending us into oblivion and keeping the economy from recovery an accomplishment. Obama has absolutely nothing to brag about, why do you think he is campaigning against the Republicans instead of his own incredibly terrible disasters?

    August 10, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. inofritzn

    You will never please liberals. They are always angry, they always want more, and they are only concerned with themselves. Liberals must be squashed, not appeased.

    August 10, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Dave

    OK–Obama has still wimped out on the real change the country needs. I guess we are not the ones we have been waiting for.

    August 10, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. phoenix86

    The left is anything but professional. Intollerant, yes. Ignornant, yes. But definately not professional.

    August 10, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. Peter E

    Oh, then DO tell me what is the difference between George W. Bush and Barack Obama! I'm DYING to know! Economy? Obama continued the Bush tax breaks thus far, furthered the bailouts started by Bush, and let Wall Street write its own regulation, just like in years past. Wars? Our 'ending' of the Iraq War is just a drawdown of troops, also started by Bush, and we will still have 50 thousand men there at the end of it, which is almost the same as promised by 'more of the same' McCain. Terrorism and Gitmo? Gitmo is still open, prisoners are still held without charge and are subject to military tribunals, and our intelligence is still failing miserably. Health care? Obama let insurance lobbyists write the entire thing, the bottom line of which is that insurance companies still can do whatever they want, and they'll get more money. Education? Obama's 'alternative' to NCLB is... wait for it... continued testing of kids under a different program name, while also not providing for increased funding for needed schools.
    So please, DO tell me what makes Obama SOOO different!

    August 10, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Difference between the left and the right: the left lets its people criticize its leaders, even if they disagree. The right hunts down and eliminates any dissenters who don't parrot verbatim the dictates of Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdock, and Halliburton. The left allows for a wide range of differences in opinion. The right all parrots the same hypocrisies and lies over and over, while making excuses, or downright rewrites facts to make their deviates look consistent with party dogma.

    August 10, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. CBR

    The far left is never satisfied with what is being done on any of their issues. Like the far right, they sometimes lose touch with reality.

    Change comes slowly no matter who suggests it. There are lots of people who do not adapt well to change and need time to adjust.

    I find Press Secretary Gibbs to be a good spokeperson for the administration. Yes he does express his opinion but that is one of his qualities that I like. He does not just promote the party line.

    August 10, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. all the news that's fit to omit

    In the off chance they uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh actually do their jobs and report the good and YES, the BAD that he does, the thin skinned coward can't handle it.

    They got him selected, elected and totally protected, but yet, the campaigner in chief want's total kool-aid guzzling and sycophant praise (see MessNBC, NBC, ABC............).

    The other president got hammered every day and every step along the way, but yet this gutless charlatan complains about the media.

    What a bowing down, apology first, little simp.

    Yes folks, today's word is simp.

    August 10, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Four and The Door

    Liberal commentators have criticized the White House for ...pushing for a stimulus bill significantly smaller than that which many liberal economists said was needed.
    _____________________________________________________
    How large of a failure do they believe was necessary?!?? This wasn't big enough? Even with what was done, very likely the Obama Stimulus experiment will probably not be paid for in the lifetime of any Americans alive right now. Do they feel good about that?

    August 10, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
1 2