Some Free Advice For Robert Gibbs
I don't know whether my anger should be at Press Secretary Robert Gibbs or at the President himself. I guess since this is a continuing problem that is showing an alarming amount of consistency I have to pin this on the President as he could stop this if he chooses and he has chosen not to.
The problem I refer to is the continuing practice of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs marginalizing and ridiculing those that criticize the President's policies and decisions. It's not just Fox News that is noticing it either. The irritation at the practice is being displayed even by NBC, who seems to have a partnership with the White House is promoting the Obama agenda. (You of course have to leave out Keith Olbermann who will never think the President can do anything wrong much like he didn't think George Bush could do anything right.)
Some of Gibbs' more infamous beat downs of Obama criticizers come from the health care debate and the recent announcement of the Obama speech to our school children on Tuesday. On the energetic town halls that we have been seeing all over America in the last month, Gibbs calls the energy "manufactured anger". When challenged by a Fox News reporter to justify the collection of data by the White House on American citizens blown in by their fellow citizens and the dissemination of SPAM emails from the White House, Gibbs chose to lose his temper and ridicule the reporter instead.
Now we have the speech Obama is giving to our school children on Tuesday. Many parents are a bit concerned and I believe rightly so. Without knowing the content of the speech we are hesitant to let our children listen to it. Obama has a documented record of making pro-socialist statements such as "Now is not the time for profits" and "We just want to spread the wealth around a little." and many of us don't want our kids hearing that. When you add to it the idea that the White House wants elementary school children to write letters to themselves about how they can "help the President" it gives a disturbing feeling of uncertainty and the protection instinct kicks in. When asked about the speech and the concerns of the parents, Gibbs calls it the "silly season"
Mr. Gibbs let's have a little chat her for a moment shall we. No, seriously, pull up a chair and let's chat. As a public speaker and the owner of a service based business I want to give you a little less on what to and what not to say to people if you want to win them over to your cause.
When asked to give your opinion on those that are protesting your bosses policies you first need to acknowledge their right to do so, state that you are glad they are exercising that right and then acknowledge the legitimacy of their opinion. You reiterate that you disagree with them but that you respect the points they have brought to the table and you look forward to the debate that will follow.
Instead of calling the health care town halls "manufactured anger", try this:
"We are excited to see the energy in these town halls and we are encouraged by how many Americans have decided to take part in the Democratic process and we hope to continue to see this energy and enthusiasm. We simply ask that both sides keep their behavior civil and respectful to their fellow citizens that may not agree with them and then let's have a discussion on these issues and do what is best for the American people. We don't claim to have all the answers and we realize that, in the spirit of compromise, some changes may be needed. We look forward to the feedback from both sides of the debate and we encourage all Congresspersons to continue providing their constituents with a forum to continue this process."
That sounds better doesn't it Robert? Does it sound familiar? It should. It's exactly the way Tony Snow conducted a press briefing. Say what you want about George Bush but the man could get things done. When it came time to attack Iraq he had the support of 70% of America. If we had actually found WMD's, I think that support would have stayed high BUT that's a whole different story. (I was in the 30% side of the fence by the way)
Now, when it comes to the issue of parents being concerned about Tuesday's speech, you need to reassure us that the speech is not political, give us some details and acknowledge that our concerns are valid. Saying that it is the "silly season" does nothing more than fan the flames.
Mr. Gibbs when you are standing on that podium it is NOT a bully pulpit and it shouldn't be used for that. When you stand there you have two buckets. One has water and one has gasoline. When a reporter asks you a question that you consider to be a fire that needs to be put out which bucket are you going to use. So far you have been using the gasoline. I sincerely hope you will start choosing the water.