Back to Media School: Gibbs Fumbles; Brewer Chokes

was interviewed Tuesday by Gretchen Carlson of Fox News in a preview to Obama’s big “it”s not over, but we can’t afford it and it was wrong in the first place,” speech on the Iraq War. Of course, Gibbs was primed to give Carlson a dose of the White House talking points on Obama’s speech, but Carlson beat him to the punch with a question designed to have him say, George W. Bush was right on the surge, the increase in ground troops that occurred three years ago.   At that time, candidate Obama was very much against the surge.  Now,  looking at the interviews and political commentaries of conservatives regarding Obama’s “End of Combat” Iraq speech, almost all of them mention that “Bush was right.”  This is a key Republican talking point because it attempts to hide how much Bush got terribly wrong (see below). The interview:  Carlson is aggressive, saying Obama has flip-flopped and that she isn’t playing political games and that Obama should rectify what he said about Bush’s plan.  He backpedals, particularly when he hears “flip-flop.” He tries to counter with “political games,” but she’s unfazed.   This is war — Fox News against the liberals.  She  really comes after Gibbs; no wonder Fox gets attacked for being a conservative media outlet. For his part, Gibbs fumbles to answer the question, which is surprising — he should have been prepared.  In addition, in this age of editing for YouTube, Gibbs really needs to avoid saying, “Bush was right” because these words will certainly appear in a political video used against Obama.   Eventually, Gibbs gets around to listing the other  elements that were involved in reducing the violence in Iraq, such as the cooperation of local leaders and tribes.  This is the answer that he should have given the first time.  Something like: “The president has always been clear that there had to be a variety of elements,  including negotiating with local and tribal leaders, to reduce the level of violence.  A simple military solution wouldn’t do it.” Gibbs also seems reluctant to point out that stating “Bush was right” about the surge, overlooks that he got so many other things wrong – no WMDs, no Al Qaeda connection (until after the invasion); the war cost more than a hundred thousand lives, somewhere around $1.5 trillion dollars (30 percent will be caring for the veterans of the war), and no Mission Accomplished. Of course, Gibb’s answer regarding the surge and the preceding paragraph of mine, will not persuade the 30 percent of America who hate Obama, nor will it dissuade the 30 percent who love him.  However, it could have helped with the middle 40 percent, who can never make up their minds. Lesson 2:  Jan Brewer Chokes In the interest of bipartisanship, let’s have a look at Jan Brewer, Arizona’s governor, as she chokes at the start of a debate Wednesday night.   I am sure that Brewer had something to say, but all she can get out is, “I have really done the best that anyone could do.”   She loses her concentration immediately after saying, “It’s great to be here with Larry, Barry, and Kerry.”  She’s so focused on getting these three names right that she can’t think of much else to say after that except that she sued Obama and brought Arizona back from the abyss.  The cure for this is preparation – and forget about naming names; just say thank you, you’re happy to be here, and then tell us why you’re so awesome.]]>