Robert Gibbs on flak from the left: 'No inflatable exit' from his office

At Wednesday's White House briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs came prepared to field questions concerning his recent complaint about the 'professional left.'

Charles Dharapak/AP
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs reporters at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Robert Gibbs took the podium Wednesday in the White House briefing room, two days after the presidential press secretary made intemperate comments about the “professional left” that still have the political world buzzing.

After missing Tuesday’s briefing for health reasons, Mr. Gibbs came prepared. When the subject of his remarks came up, early in the briefing, he said, “I don’t plan on leaving, and there’s no truth to the rumor that I’ve added an inflatable exit to my office.”

Gibbs was referring to the JetBlue flight attendant who got fed up with an unruly passenger and fled the plane via the emergency slide.

In a Hill newspaper interview published Monday, Gibbs had vented about the lack of appreciation on the “professional left” for President Obama’s accomplishments, including the stimulus, health-care reform, and Wall Street reform. Many liberals have been unhappy that the president didn’t seem to fight very hard, for example, for the government-run public option in health-care reform, or for a bigger stimulus package.

In an expression of how unreasonable he feels the left – i.e., Obama’s base – is being, Gibbs said: ‘They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.’”

Representative Kucinich (D) of Ohio is a left-wing member of the House who ran for president in 2004 and 2008.

Gibbs said he stands by his criticism of the left, though he wishes he had expressed it differently.

"There are many time when I read the transcripts ... that I could have said things slightly differently,” Gibbs said. “I watch lot of cable TV and you don't have to watch long to get frustrated by some of what's said."

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine said Gibbs’s original comment “was definitely one where, you know, it should have stayed in the thought bubble over his head [rather] than being spoken.”

Then former Governor Kaine tried to turn the impatience of the left to his party’s advantage.

“You know, as Democrats, we tend to be an impatient party,” Kaine said. “I mean, this is something that I know and I kind of love about us. Edison said discontent is the first sign of progress, so if you're complacent, you don't push. Hey, we want things to happen and everybody wants more to happen, and nobody more so than the president.”

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