Olbermann vs. Gibbs: White House Spokesman Sticks by Remarks about ‘Professional Left’

By Fred Lucas | August 11, 2010 | 6:26 PM EDT

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs reporters at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – After being criticized for castigating what he termed the “professional left,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday stood by his comment but said it was born out of frustration.
Asked if he felt like he stuck his foot in his mouth, Gibbs said, “I think I have both feet planted on the floor and nothing in my mouth.”
In an interview published in The Hill newspaper on Tuesday, Gibbs expressed frustration with the liberals who have criticized Obama.
“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs told The Hill. “I mean, it’s crazy.”
He went on to say, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.” He later added, “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”
Tuesday night, MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann attacked Gibbs and proclaimed, “The White House has seemed more like the amateur left.”

During his “Special Comment” segment of the show, Olbermann said, “I suppose I’m part of the problem from his perspective,” and added, “frustration should not be directed at the professional left. The professional right is far more deserving.”
“The president has shown a willingness to give the professional right, not just a seat at the table, as he tries to restore the country to what it was before Bush-Cheney got a hold of it,” said Olbermann. “Not just to give them half of the seats at the table, but often, far too often, to give them all the seats at the table, the table and the damn carpet.”
The MSNBC host denounced the Obama administration for making compromises on the health care bill, firing former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod and not prosecuting the Bush administration.
“Why on earth do you start every negotiation just barely left of center?” Olbermann said.
Gibbs said he did not watch Olbermann.
“Actually, I was watching my Blackberry for primary returns,” Gibbs told CNSNews.com Wednesday.
Explaining his remark the “professional left,” Gibbs said, “I think maybe you all have heard frustration in my voice. Sure. I doubt I’ve said anything you haven’t already heard. It was born out of frustration.”
CBS News reporter Chip Reid asked, “Do you stand by it?”
Gibbs answered, “Yes.”
Liberal talk radio host Bill Press asked, “Do you want to name any names, Robert?”
Gibbs responded, “I left my membership list back in the office.”
The liberal Huffington Post’s Sam Stein asked, “Who wants to eliminate the Pentagon?”
Gibbs said, “Wasn’t that a proposal during the presidential campaign? Didn’t Dennis Kucinich, or maybe it was adding a Department of Peace.”
During the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Rep. Kucinich of Ohio, said if elected he would establish a “Department of Peace.”
Gibbs said he has not discussed the matter at all with President Obama. Further, he said, “I don’t plan on leaving.”