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

Gibbs walks back criticisms of 'professional left'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="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. JR

    It is so estrange that Roberts Gibbs has always had harsh words for liberals who express their concerns to help President Obama to better achieve his agenda. Even predicting their defeat in November. They are the people who put President Obama in office and would bring him back in 2012. Thus, Gibbs needs to know that., and he needs to stop frustrating liberals.
    At the same time, Gibbs always use very political correct language for conservatives who are in war against the POTUS.
    I hope he is a true Democrat and wise enough to fully support the Democrat Party.

    August 10, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. fiscal responsibility

    Gibbs is a goofball. He never answers 'real questions'. Not only that, he is quite condescending. I know that he is just Obama's PR/propaganda guy, but he could at least strive to be a helpful 'public servant'.

    August 10, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
1 2