The hottest topic to bet on these days in D.C. is what in the heck White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was thinking when he told one of the Sunday morning news shows this week that Democrats could lose control of Congress this fall.
Was he thinking that the White House might benefit from same? I heard the theory in May from one Obama appointee that with fewer conservative Democrats in the House or Senate, the president would be able to champion more progressive programs. That, because conservative Democrats would no longer be part of the bargaining process. You will recall that anti-abortion rights Democrats skewed healthcare reform in a way that angered liberals.
Then there’s always the possibility that he was being honest instead of spinning. According to the Christian Science Monitor:
Gibbs has since softened the comment, but that did not stop House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from unloading on him at a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus Tuesday night. Gibbs was not there, but she reportedly went after another White House aide in the room, suggesting Gibbs didn’t know what he was talking about.
Whatever his reasoning, he’s since stepped back from the precipice and has told reporters the House and Senate are safely in Democratic hands and will continue to be so beyond this fall’s elections.
Here’s my take on why Gibbs said what he did: While he's a seasoned Washington communications guy (having briefly served as press secretary for Sen. John Kerry's presidential run), he's hanging around with a bunch of pikers and sometimes their inexperience rubs off on him. Both he and this administration were not job-ready when they took over the White House and still haven't quite figured out how to act at the apex of politics. Choosing words carefully is important and Gibbs’s comment on Sunday is proof of why it is.