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WH Deputy Press Secretary Explains Robert Gibbs Comment On ‘Professional Left’

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took a shot at what he called the “professional left” in an interview published today with The Hill’s Sam Youngman causing a bit of dust-up within beltway media insiders. So it was great anticipation that the White House press corps looked towards today briefing to ask Gibbs what exactly he meant by those comments. Alas, Deputy Secretary Bill Burton was at the podium in lieu of an ailing Gibbs, but that didn’t keep reporters from asking questions.

The interview with Youngman, Gibbs takes a blunt view of the administration’s critics from the left:

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

In remarks later made to Huffington Post‘s Sam Stein, Gibbs later qualified the remarks as “inartful” and Burton clarified that Gibbs defined the “professional left,” as cable TV commentators.

Mediaite’s own White House reporter Tommy Christopher asked Burton about criticism that, with regard to the “professional left,” with issues like Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones and ACORN, that the Obama administration seems to be more to the “professional right” in terms of the both response and rhetorical effort. In other words, the White House communications efforts might be guilty of taking the left for granted.

Burton showed that he is adept at that “no-answer-answer” by pushing back on Tommy, dismissing his line of thinking as sort of an “existential question,” then following with the banal kicker of “the President is concerned about what’s best for this country.”

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