What Robert Gibbs Didn't See Coming

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 5 2011 10:45 AM

What Robert Gibbs Didn't See Coming

Robert Gibbs is leaving the White House to become an outside political operative. As he prepares to do that, a free tip: Don't be so dismissive of the opposition. The Gibbs moment I remember the most was his response to Rick Santelli's CNBC rant about mortgage bailouts.

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In the rearview mirror, the Democratic/White House/liberal activist decision to ridicule the conservative backlash to Obama, and to elevate its "craziest" members, looks like an historic blunder. Granted, the ridicule might have worked if the economy picked up faster and Republicans were left with a bunch pf bad faith and bad predictions. But this early response to the Tea Party, which started with facts and ended in a fairly silly diss ("Coffee. Decaf."), demonstrates how Obama and his allies got it wrong at the start.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.