Robert Gibbs, press-secretary-for-Obama-turned-cable-news-appearer, is not a fan of Maureen Dowd. On Morning Joe, Gibbs claimed not to read the New York Times columnist, since she's been writing the same thing for the past eight years. The dis came as part of a segment in which the show's hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski read weekend opinion pieces to Gibbs and ask for his response. He, unsurprisingly, defended the president and the administration. Until they got to Dowd when he had simply went offense against the columnist.
Brzezinski: Did you see Maureen Dowd, Robert Gibbs, yesterday?
Gibbs: I don’t normally read Maureen.
Brzezinski: Oh, yes, you do.
Brzezinski: Yes, you do.
Gibbs: I don’t largely because it’s sort of largely the same column for the last, like, eight years.
Gibbs and Dowd have been at odds for a while. In 2010, Gibbs — while still serving as White Hosue press secretary — famously insulted those on the "professional left" who would only be satisfied when "we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon." To which Dowd responded, "Robert Gibbs should be yanked as White House press secretary," given the "disdain" he shows for the press.
But: Does Gibbs have a point? Has Dowd's writing been the same for eight years? When it comes to covering Gibbs' favorite topic, the president, the answer is basically yes. Since before the 2008 campaign, Dowd has repeatedly argued that Obama can be weak and distant.
How will we ever persuade him to give up his modeling gigs in Men’s Vogue, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair and Washington Life? How can we lure the lanky young senator from Illinois out of the glossy celebrity pages and back to gritty substance, away from Annie Leibovitz’s camera and back to Abraham Lincoln’s tradition?
I’m just not certain, having watched the fresh-faced senator shy away from fighting with the feral Hillary over her Hollywood turf, that he understands that a campaign is inherently a conflict.
But often he reverts to Obambi, tentative about commanding the stage and consistently channeling the excitement he engenders.
One of the most valuable lessons the gritty Hillary can teach the languid Obama — and the timid Democrats — is that the whole point of a presidential race is to win.
The odd thing is that Obama bears a distinct resemblance to the most cherished hero in chick-lit history. The senator is a modern incarnation of the clever, haughty, reserved and fastidious Mr. Darcy.
He was going to be the kind of guy who whipped you up and then, when you were all excited, left you flat, and then, when you were deflated and exasperated and time was running out, ensorcelled you again with some sparkly fairy dust.
Obama wanted to be a transformative president and now the presidency is transforming him.
Instead of buoyant, he seems put upon.
Instead of the fairy dust of hopefulness, there’s the bitter draught of helplessness.
And so on.
Since Gibbs claimed he hadn't seen yesterday's column, Scarborough read him some excerpts of Dowd's latest column (stuff like "The onetime messiah seems like a sad sack, trying to bounce back from a blistering array of sins that are not even his fault") to see if he had a response:
Scarborough: Is that the same Maureen Dowd column you've been reading for eight years?
Gibbs: More or less, yes.
Which is not accurate. It's only been since 2006. Dowd is nothing if not consistent.
Update, 3:34 p.m.: Also, Maureen Dowd is not a fan of Robert Gibbs. In an email to Politico, Dowd wrote, "I don’t normally listen to Robert. ... I don’t largely because it’s sort of largely the same tired defense of President Obama for the last, like, six years."
Please note that Dowd appears to have also repeated the word "largely."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.