Robert Gibbs Remark Reveals the Perspective of the Left

Every president should probably be excused one inept White House Press Secretary. President George W. Bush endured the dear-in-the-headlights Scott McClellan, who embarrassed the Bush Administration both before and after his tenure. McClellan was followed by one of the most articulate and press-savvy press secretaries ever, Tony Snow. Poor President Barack Obama presently endures Robert Gibbs.

Recently, Gibbs radically mischaracterized a criticism by the former FEMA Director Michael Brown on the Obama Administration response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the explosion of a BP oil platform. This issue should have been a softball for Gibbs. Brown had been roundly criticized for his handling of Katrina in the Bush Administration. Brown has not earned much credibility on how to handle a catastrophe. Gibbs squandered the rhetorical opportunity by wrongly asserting that Brown had charged that the oil spill was deliberately planned by the Obama Administration. Brown had really charged that the Obama Administration had not been as quick in response as they should have been to reduce public support for offshore oil drilling. Brown’s charge was extraordinary and without proof, but Gibbs made Brown a sympathetic figure by his gross exaggeration.

Gibbs’s most egregious recent blunder also had to deal with BP. Gibbs was trying to say that the Obama Administration would hold BP accountable for the cost of the oil spill cleanup. What he actually said was that, “We will keep our … boot on the throat of BP to ensure that they’re doing all that is necessary while we do all that is humanly possible to deal with this incident.” Such a statement from a high Administration official is more than little creepy and unfortunately suggestive of the tactics of totalitarian thugs. One could imagine the hand-wringing and rightful angry reaction if a Bush press secretary had suggested that `We will keep our boot on the throat of Islamic states to ensure that they’re doing all that is necessary to help  capture terrorists.” The foot-on-the-throat metaphor is inappropriate as a general matter.

What is amazing is that Gibbs felt free to suggest such action as long as it was against an oil company. Will there be similar promises against other companies that err or cross the Administration?  Perhaps less unexpected is that the Left seemed less phased by this unfortunate metaphor in  a serious context than by a joke by President Obama.

At a White House Correspondents Dinner, a occasion where humor is the theme, President Obama joked:

“Jonas Brothers are here, they’re out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I’m joking?’

an Prospect,  worried that the joke displayed a lack of sympathy for those innocents accidentally killed by weapons launched by predator drones.

The Left has no sense of humor and does not seem to be able to recognize a humorous remark delivered in a light context (President Obama’s joke) and a inappropriate metaphor (Gibb’s use of boot-on-the-throat threat) delivered seriously in a formal context. The reaction by the Left to these incidents reveals more about the Left than it does about Gibbs or Obama.

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